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Minn. Man Gets Brain-Powered Prosthetic Arm

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new type of prosthetic is yielding some amazing results, and becoming a true game-changer for amputees in Minnesota.

It involves a 15-hour surgery that is paired with the new prosthetic that is powered by his brain.

Only a few Minnesotans have had it.

Mike Jirak, 38, of Breckenridge, is one of them.

In 2010, Jirak's life changed forever.  He was driving a milk truck that overturned.

"I had kicked the door open of the semi and was crawling to the highway with my severed limb in my right hand," Jirak said.

His life was spared, his upper left limb was not.

"I had my moment.  It was about 35 minutes according to my mom, of course I had a good cry. Wanted to see my wife, my kids and everything else" Jirak said.

Then Jirak got over it, and got fitted for a standard prosthesis.

"Three elbows basically stopped working because I was working them so much," Jirak, an active hunter and fisher, said.

So a Maple Grove clinic, Advanced Arm Dynamics, reached out and helped him get a surgery that would change his life once more.

It works by re-energizing the nerves in Jirak's shoulder to send messages to electrodes in the prosthesis, letting his brain tell his arm how to move.

Pat Prigge is a prosthetist with Advance Arm Dynamics.

"So, when Mike is thinking about opening and closing his hand, his brain is sending signals down the right pathway, and he's opening and closing his hand in his brain, too. So, that's a big deal," Prigge said.

After a fifteen and a half hour surgery at Mayo, Prigge helped prep Jirak for his new arm.

"It's not for the faint at heart.  He's been doing rehab now with us for a year," Prigge said.

And it's working.

Now Jirak says he has a new target.

"I would love to be able to pump my shotgun again," he said.

The procedure is called Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) and it can now be covered by insurance. You can learn more at Advance Arm Dynamics online.

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