A state-of-the-art robotic arm being developed at DEKA Research and Development in Manchester has enabled double amputee Chuck Hildreth to perform feats he never thought he would be able to accomplish again.
Hildreth, 44, lost both arms 26 years ago while painting a power substation; 15,000 volts of electricity surged through his body. His right arm was burned so badly doctors had to remove the shoulder blade and were able to save only a stub of his less-damaged left arm. He also lost three toes on each foot.
After years of using and discarding a number of clumsy and uncomfortable prosthetic devices, Hildreth is now one of three men taking part in the testing of the new prosthetic device known as the “Luke Arm” for its resemblance to the one Luke Skywalker was fitted with in the second “Star Wars” movie.
“I’m very fortunate to be part of this project. It’s one of the things I never thought I’d see in my lifetime,” Hildreth said.
Within hours of being outfitted with the arm, he was able to pick up pieces of wood, use a cordless power drill and even pick up a sheetrock screw and use the drill to put it into a sheetrock board.