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August 2019

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TMR program director Steven Gray, David Lee Gow from ProMotion Prosthetics and director of plastic surgery Frank Bruscino-Raiola with patients Daniel Campbell, John Davies, Jack Manners, Alan Newey and Raj Singh.

Alfred leads the way in mind-controlled prosthetic arms

More upper limb amputees in Australia are regaining independence thanks to Alfred Health’s thought-controlled prosthetic arm program.

The osseointegration and targeted muscle re-innervation (TMR) program at The Alfred is the only one of its kind in Australia.

Since its launch in 2017, the program – led by director of plastic surgery Frank Bruscino-Raiola – has changed the lives of five men who lost their arms through trauma.

Daniel Campbell, Jack Manners and Raj Singh all lost their arms in workplace accidents.

Now, they have been fitted with prosthetic arms they can control with their own thoughts.

The men have each been in the program for six months and are now making exciting progress with their prosthetic arms.

They are again able to do the simple tasks they once took for granted – like tying shoelaces and opening doors.

Mr Campbell was 23 when he lost his arm in a farming accident.

‘After I lost my arm, I realised I couldn’t even do simple things like cooking meal or picking up a clothes basket.

‘It took a lot away from my capacity to work but now I have my arm I’m keen to get back to it and have a go.

‘Now I’ve been able to pick up boxes and carry things, it’s given me a lot of my independence back.

‘Everyone is really intrigued by how the arm works and what it can do.

‘I just think normal movements and I can move my hand – it’s a bizarre sensation.

‘The Alfred team are brilliant, they’re the best team I’ve worked with so far,’ Mr Campbell said.

Pushing the boundaries from patients who have undergone amputations from injury, Mr Bruscino-Raiola has since operated on the latest addition to the program, John Davies, who lost part of both upper and lower limbs from septicaemia last year.

Mr Davies is preparing for his prosthetic arm and was inspired by meeting with the other program participants.

‘What they can do is awe inspiring,’ Mr Davies said.

‘Then I think how that’s going to be me.

‘I don’t think there’s anything beyond the power of the mind.’

The program involves two major procedures.

The first surgery is oessointegration where a titanium implant is fused into the remaining bone of the amputated limb.

This provides a stable base to attach the prosthetic arm.

The TMR procedure involves re-wiring nerves so they can connect with electrodes in the specially-designed prosthesis, which enables the brain to communicate with the prosthetic arm.

After a recovery period, patients engage in an extensive virtual reality program that helps train their brain to control their prosthetic arms – just like a real arm.