Watch: Double amputee uses robotic limbs for first time

Posted at 1:24 PM, Dec 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-24 15:57:59-05

LAUREL, Md. — A man who lost both arms in a freak electrical accident over 40 years ago has made history by being the first shoulder-level amputee to wear and control two specialized robotic arm replacements.

Before he could be fitted with his modular prosthetic limbs, Leslie Baugh had to undergo excruciatingly painful surgery to rearrange the nerves around his chest. That surgery made it possible for him to be fitted with a special harness and control the replacement limbs. Now, Baugh can operate the system by simply thinking about the movements he wants to make.

“Maybe I’ll be able to, for once, be able to put change in a pop machine and get the pop out of it. Simple things like that that most people never think of,” Baugh said.

Courtney Moran, one of the researchers working with Baugh, said the movements of shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand are made separately, with rests in between each movement.

Within a short training period, Baugh successfully completed a variety of tasks he hasn’t been able to do in four decades.

Researchers hope to use the knowledge gained by working with Baugh to help improve the quality of life for wounded warriors and other amputees.