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Future of prosthetic limbs on display at conference in Fredericton

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Fredericton is playing host to an international conference on upper limb prosthetic control.

The Myoelectric Controls Symposium highlights advancements in research and technology pertaining to upper limb prosthetics.

It's been taking place in New Brunswick's capital city since the 1970s and is an opportunity to bring everyone in the field to the table.

"An integrated team is so important in our field. That's one thing we've always seen. You can't have the doctors in one room and the engineers in another. And our community has always valued this conference,” said Jon Sensinger, co-chair of the symposium.

In a field where medicine and engineering overlap, the companies behind the work say it's not just about creating robot hands — it's creating accessibility.

"Those of us in the field get to see that benefit every day, and it's very exciting,” said Blair Lock, CEO of the prosthetics engineering company Coapt.

“It's fun, sometimes, to take a step back and to really understand how impactful some of this work that we all spend really our blood, sweat and tears in doing this technology and how impactful it is for those who use it,” Lock said.

The international conference has scientists, researchers and companies from Australia, Asia, Europe and the U.S.

They offer a range of prosthesis technologies.

"We've aimed overall to make a hand that can really fill the niche for patients,” said James Austin, a lead mechanical engineer at Psyonic, a prosthetic manufacturer based in Illinois.

“It's durable. It's affordable. It's reliable. It's slick. It's speedy. We try to fill all the needs a user could have,” Austin said.

Rahul Kaliki, CEO of Infinite Biomedical Technologies, says his company’s job is to make prosthetic hands easier to use.

“So we work on control technology. So ways we interpret the signals from the body to operate the prosthetic hands, wrists, and elbows that are out there,” Kaliki said.

The conference is always looking toward the future of prosthetics.

"I think, the thing I might be the most excited about is a new miniature sensor technology that can see the individual muscles moving in the arm,” Sensinger said. “It's in the preliminary stages. But I think it has the potential to really make an impact in our field.”

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