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University of Utah to help build bionic arm

SALT LAKE CITY -- University of Utah researchers will receive up to $10.3 million to help develop a new prosthetic arm that would work, feel and look like a real arm. The Utah work is a key part of a U.S. Department of Defense contract worth up to $55 million to develop the new device for soldiers and potentially others whose arms were amputated.

"Imagine an artificial arm that moves naturally in response to your thoughts, that allows you to feel both the outside world and your own movements, and that is as strong and graceful as an intact, biological limb," says bioengineer Greg Clark, the University of Utah's principal investigator on the project. "That's what our researchers, teaming with others around the world, are setting out to achieve. People's arms and hands are not only tools, but also an important means by which they explore the world and interact with others. We hope to restore that capability."

The research is part of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009 project sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA said in a news release that it wants to "revolutionize prosthetic devices for amputee soldiers. Over the next four years, researchers will create a mechanical arm that has the properties of a biological limb."

Col. Geoff Ling, a physician and DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics program manager, said: "Although our war fighters suffer fewer fatalities, they still suffer horrible injuries. And today one of the most devastating battlefield injuries is loss of a limb."

The Pentagon announced the project in February when it said it was awarding the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory $30.4 million over two years, with optional additional funding that could bring the total to $54.8 million over four years. The laboratory is subcontracting tasks to 28 other universities, labs, hospitals and companies.

Under a contract signed with the Applied Physics Laboratory last month,
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23-Apr-2006


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