The DEKA Arm: its features, functionality, and evolution during the Veterans Affairs Study to optimize the DEKA Arm

Prosthet Orthot Int. 2014 Dec;38(6):492-504. doi: 10.1177/0309364613506913. Epub 2013 Oct 22.


Background and aim: DEKA Integrated Solutions Corp. (DEKA) was charged by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to design a prosthetic arm system that would be a dramatic improvement compared with the existing state of the art. The purpose of this article is to describe the two DEKA Arm prototypes (Gen 2 and Gen 3) used in the Veterans Affairs Study to optimize the DEKA Arm.

Technique: This article reports on the features and functionality of the Gen 2 and Gen 3 prototypes discussing weight, cosmesis, grips, powered movements Endpoint, prosthetic controls, prosthetist interface, power sources, user notifications, troubleshooting, and specialized socket features; pointing out changes made during the optimization efforts.

Discussion: The DEKA Arm is available in three configurations: radial configuration, humeral configuration, and shoulder configuration. All configurations have six preprogrammed grip patterns and four wrist movements. The humeral configuration has four powered elbow movements. The shoulder configuration uses Endpoint Control to perform simultaneous multi-joint movements. Three versions of foot controls were used as inputs. The Gen 3 incorporated major design changes, including a compound wrist that combined radial deviation with wrist flexion and ulnar deviation with wrist extension, an internal battery for the humeral configuration and shoulder configuration, and embedded wrist display.

Clinical relevance: The DEKA Arm is an advanced upper limb prosthesis, not yet available for commercial use. It has functionality that surpasses currently available technology. This manuscript describes the features and functionality of two prototypes of the DEKA Arm, the Gen 2 and the Gen 3.

Keywords: Amputation; assistive technology; prosthetics; upper limb.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amputees / rehabilitation*
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Electric Power Supplies
  • Humans
  • Humerus
  • Movement
  • Prosthesis Design*
  • Radius
  • Self-Help Devices / trends*
  • Shoulder
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs*
  • Upper Extremity / surgery*
  • Wrist