Dressed in military fatigues and standing at attention before an Oklahoma City audience Thursday morning, a life-sized mannequin showed off the astounding life-like arm movements that new prosthetic technology is bringing amputees. The robotic arm demonstration was witnessed at a Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park Conference center news conference where a collaboration was unveiled between OrthoCare Innovations and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab in Maryland.
What’s to come?The goal of the collaboration is to enhance the advancement of prosthetics technology for patients who desperately need it, said David Boone, OrthoCare’s chief technology officer. "We’re here to unveil two real-world technology partnerships today that seek to bridge that gap between the laboratory bench and the bedside,” Boone said. "Most exciting for Oklahoma is we will be manufacturing these technologies here in the state.” OrthoCare is a Washington-based company that expanded to Oklahoma City in April when it acquired Martin Bionics, a prosthetics technology research company. Its Oklahoma City lab is based in the research park. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe also addressed the audience, describing the prosthetics manufacturing possibilities he sees as a result of the collaboration. "Oklahoma has a long history of prosthetics, people coming from all over the world to Oklahoma,” Inhofe. "Yet, the problem I see is that they are not manufactured here. What I’m hoping to do is see you folks who are experts change that so that we will actually be doing a lot of that in Oklahoma.”
State connectionsSpeakers representing Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory described the technologies under development in their labs and OrthoCare’s role in the process. "Here in Oklahoma there are three connections, at least, to our team,” said Stuart Harshbarger, team leader at the Johns Hopkins lab for an $80 million, federal project called Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009. "One started with Martin Bionics. Jay Martin (Martin Bionics’ founder) has been involved, and his team is developing new body attachment and socket technologies that will hopefully lead to the long-term viability of these systems. We also had a parallel relationship with OrthoCare Innovations ... and it is very fortunate that the synergy of OrthoCare and Martin Bionics came together.” Lonnie Love, senior research scientist at the Oak Ridge lab, demonstrated the muscle power of a technology called "meso fluidics” using Sen. Inhofe as a test subject.