Health Problem: Amputation presents a significant disability that can have profound physical, psychological, and vocational consequences in a person’s life. Approximately 50,000 people undergo an amputation of the upper or lower limb each year in the United States, with upper limb amputations accounting for approximately 25% of these amputations.

Technology Description: Developed by DEKA Research & Development Corporation through funding provided in part by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the life under kinetic evolution (LUKE) arm is an upper limb prosthesis intended to restore limb function in individuals who have lost all or part of either upper limb. It is primarily controlled by a micro-electromechanical system operated through an inertial measurement unit (IMU) located in a sensor device attached to the top of the shoe. The user commands motion of the prosthesis by tilting his or her foot (and the IMU) in various directions.

The LUKE arm is available in 3 configurations to fit differing levels of amputation: the radial configuration (RC) for transradial amputees, the humeral configuration (HC) for transhumeral amputees, and the shoulder configuration (SC) for shoulder disarticulation and scapulothoracic (forequarter) amputees. In its maximum configuration, the LUKE arm can provide up to 10 active degrees of freedom (or movements), including shoulder abduction, shoulder flexion/extension, humeral rotation, elbow flexion/extension, wrist pronation/supination, wrist flexion/extension, index finger flexion/extension, flexion/extension of other fingers, thumb flexion/extension, and thumb abduction/adduction. Multiple powered degrees of freedom can be moved at the same time, and the hand includes a sensor that provides grip force feedback.

Controversy: The LUKE arm offers technological advances not currently available in existing upper extremity prostheses. However, it is expensive, and proper use of the LUKE arm may require lengthy training.

Key Questions:

  • Is the LUKE arm effective in treating individuals with upper extremity amputation?
  • How does the LUKE arm compare with other upper extremity prosthetic devices?
  • Is the LUKE arm safe?
  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been identified for the LUKE arm?

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