Press Release

APL-Developed Prosthetic Limb System Featured on the Cover of Popular Mechanics

The Modular Prosthetic Limb, developed by The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., is featured on the cover of the May issue of Popular Mechanics, available on newsstands now. The monthly magazine, which chronicles emerging technology and innovation, has a circulation of more than 1.2 million readers.

“For 110 years, Popular Mechanics has been examining people’s relationship with technology, always with an eye to what the future will bring,” says Jennifer Bogo, senior editor for science at the magazine. “The Modular Prosthetic Arm fits at that intersection beautifully: It’s demonstrating today the sci-fi world where cutting-edge bionics will one day lead.”

The MPL is the crowning achievement of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, launched in 2006 to create a neurally controlled artificial limb that will restore full motor and sensory capability to upper-extremity amputees. It has nearly the same numbers of degrees of freedom as the human arm, and it was designed to adapt to varying degrees of amputations.

The prosthetic arm was controlled for the first time by electrical impulses from the brain at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). These continuing clinical evaluations are paving the way for additional tests at UMPC and the California Institute of Technology involving patients with upper spinal cord injuries to explore different control methods.

“We are honored that Popular Mechanics has recognized the engineering achievement required to enable a new generation of rehabilitative devices,” says Mike McLoughlin, the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program manager and the Deputy Business Area Executive for APL’s Research and Exploratory Development Business Area.