After 6 invasive surgeries and 39 radiation treatments, doctors decided they couldn’t save Johnny Matheny’s left arm.
A self-described “backwoods country hillbilly from West Virginia,” Matheny’s arm was amputated due to cancer in 2005. But today, he lives with a mind-controlled prosthetic arm. In fact, Matheny arm is the most advanced prosthetic of its kind—anywhere.

It is the handiwork of Dr. Albert Chi, who since 2016 has been a trauma surgeon at OHSU and has helped develop the use of osseointegration (fusing a titanium metal rod into remaining bone mass) to allow a prosthetic arm to move based on nerve signals from the wearer’s muscles. Chi will be speaking at TechfestNW this April.

“I would describe my research,” Chi wrote over email, “as bringing advanced technology to patients with traumatic injuries and limb loss.”

Chi's interest in trauma surgery hits close to home. In 1993 after just finishing his midterm exams at Arizona State University, Chi was injured in a motorcycle accident that almost left him without his right foot, which to this day is still an inch shorter than his left.

But Chi’s work as a trauma surgeon while deployed in Africa offered him a terrifyingly up close look at the extent of limb loss in war (more than 2 million Americans have limb loss) and set his career path in motion—the research and development of TMR, Targeted Muscle Reinnervation, which enables amputees to control motorized prosthetic devices and to regain sensory feedback.

Chi's work with prosthetics has extended into the world of 3D printing. He is now the lead investigator in the first U.S. clinical trial of bionic arms for children produced on 3D printers.

Dr. Chi designs and prints low-cost prosthetic limbs for those who otherwise could not afford them. In 2017, he gave 6-year-old Jude Rochon the first ever 3D printed prosthetic arm from an Oregon hospital. The prosthetic only cost $50 to make.

"I hope to make advance technologies accessible and affordable to all those in need," Chi wrote. "[This year] I'll be leading the first clinical study of 3D printed prosthetics in children born with congenital limb loss,."

Dr. Chi will be taking the stage with SuperGenius COO Peter Lund at TechFestNW to discuss bionic prosthetics and their revolutionary approach to Virtual Reality to treat patients with lost limbs.