LIMB RECONSTRUCTION IN FULL FORCE

Macquarie University Hospital orthopaedic surgeons have performed Australia’s first intuitive neuro-prosthetic limb operation, with the pioneering procedure giving a patient two new mind-controlled limbs.

Brain-controlled technologies are on the rise in many fields, with medicine no exception.

On Wednesday 29 August, Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis and Dr Kevin Tetsworth became the first surgeons in the world to perform game-changing surgery that will allow their patient to control two new prosthetic limbs with his mind.

Edwin Ocha Ikwu became a quadruple amputee in 2014. While visiting Australia from Nigeria to attend a conference, he lost both legs and hands to septicaemia. Unable to return home, Edwin was joined in Sydney by his wife in 2015.

“We have been working with Edwin for years,” said Associate Professor Munjed Al Muderis, head of The Limb Reconstruction Clinic at MQ Health and an internationally recognised osseointegration surgeon.

“We have been refining our techniques, optimising the surgical approach, preparing him for surgery and aiming for this day when we could provide him with new limbs to get him up and walking.

“This technology will allow him to move his legs, and eventually hands, by simply thinking ad intending to do it. The thoughts will allow the movements to happen.

“Clinically, Edwin has responded well to the medical treatment and we hope to have him walking in the next few weeks. He has incredible resilience and courage.”

Macquarie University Hospital surgeons have been working with engineering researchers from the University to develop a pioneering world-leading brain–computer interface that centres around implantable electrode technology

The innovative procedure, called Osseointegrated Prosthetic Limb – Bilateral Femurs, takes existing targeted muscle reinnervation and bone-anchoring osseointegration techniques and adds implantable electrodes connected into the muscles and nerves.

“It is the unique combination of the three procedures that makes the interface more intuitive than ever before,” said Associate Professor Al Muderis. “The key to this advance has been implantable electrodes that can now capture complex brain signals to enable more natural limb mobility.”Edwin says that he has been moved by the extent to which Australian doctors have gone to treat his condition.

“Things we thought were not possible, are now possible,” he said. “I am so thankful for the doctors who have given so much and to the groups in Sydney who have taken such good care of me and my wife.

“There have been lessons in this experience for me. I want to serve humanity in the years ahead – to use my engineering experience and my personal experience to help others, especially young people.”

Associate Professor Al Muderis is one of just a handful of surgeons worldwide who has special expertise in trans-femoral and trans-humeral amputations.

The Limb Reconstruction Clinic at MQ Health is fast becoming a world leader in the groundbreaking technique to provide greater support and mobility for amputees. The clinic takes a comprehensive multidisciplinary team with all experts located in a single location at Macquarie University Clinic and Hospital, providing a seamless approach for patients.