Skip to Content

Power Elbow

A powered elbow brace developed at MIT allows patients with spinal-cord injuries to bend and extend their arms under their own control.

For people with spinal-cord injuries, just trying to feed themselves or pick up objects can be exhausting and frustrating. MIT researchers Kailas Narendran and John McBean, working with mechanical engineer Woodie Flowers, have built a powered elbow brace that allows patients to bend and extend their arms under their own control. Carried in a hip pack is a small electric motor that drives the elbow brace via a set of miniature cables. Electrodes placed on the skin pick up electrical signals from the biceps muscle as the wearer flexes his or her arm; a control box interprets these signals and commands the motor to move the elbow joint with just the right amount of force to let the patient, for instance, wave or pick up a cup. Initial tests have been completed on spinal-injury patients at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston; a larger clinical study is now under way, says Narendran, who with McBean is starting up a company this summer to develop the product.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI

The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models. 

Rogue superintelligence and merging with machines: Inside the mind of OpenAI’s chief scientist

An exclusive conversation with Ilya Sutskever on his fears for the future of AI and why they’ve made him change the focus of his life’s work.

Data analytics reveal real business value

Sophisticated analytics tools mine insights from data, optimizing operational processes across the enterprise.

Driving companywide efficiencies with AI

Advanced AI and ML capabilities revolutionize how administrative and operations tasks are done.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.