New Prosthetic Arm Born From 'Star Wars'

Joe Gould | Marine Corp Times | March 10, 2012

In the movie “The Empire Strikes Back,” Luke Skywalker’s hand is severed in a battle with Darth Vader and replaced by a futuristic prosthetic. Now science fiction is becoming science fact as the Defense Department funds the development of the “Luke Arm,” which may replace limbs that veterans have lost in battle.

The lifelike arm, developed under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract awarded to New Hampshire-based Deka Research and Development, has undergone more than 4,000 hours of testing, largely in clinical trials at Veterans Affairs Department sites around the country.

“We did a lot of studies not just at Deka but with the VA,” said Dr. Stewart Coulter, Deka’s general manager. “One of the best things about that is that it gives us more insight and feedback into our wounded warriors, more feedback about how they want to use the arm system.”

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Joe Deslauriers wowed onlookers at the Military Health System conference outside Washington, D.C., last month when he opened and closed his “hand” and wiggled the fingers. Deslauriers, who lost his legs and part of his left arm to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, was fitted with the Luke Arm...