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High five to world's first bionic woman

Sep 15, 2006 05:34 PM IST India India

Atlanta: Twenty six-year-old Claudia Mitchell was used to taking on rigorous physical challenges when she was a US marine. But Mitchell lost her left arm in a motorcycle accident two years ago. The accident brought a challenge she couldn't have anticipated.

But this week, Mitchell was fitted with a state of the art prosthesis making her the first real bionic woman.

"With this arm I can reach forward, I can reach up. And I can't do that, you know, that's something, you don't think it's exciting to be able to reach up into the cabinet and get a big can of coffee. Well, I think it's pretty exciting to get up in there," Mitchell said.

Bionic prosthetics is controlled by the patient's thought process. To make that happen, surgeons at the rehabilitation institute of Chicago redirected severed nerves and then fitted her with a custom arm powered by six motors.

"Even though the arm is lost with its bone and muscles, the nerves are still alive and they still carry information from the brain about what the arm should do, and you can stimulate those nerves and they'll perceive sensation in the missing arm," said Director, Amputee Programs, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), Dr Todd Kuiken.

Until today, only five people had ever received bionic prosthetic arms. But Claudia has become the world's one and only true 'bionic woman'.

"I just think, I want my hand to open, and there it goes. I want my elbow to go down, and it just goes down," Mitchell said.