Bionic hand breaks touch-control barrier with five powered fingers
17 July 2007. Español
Edinburgh, UK. Touch
Bionics has launched a prosthetic hand with five individually powered
fingers. Called the i-LIMB Hand, it has already been successfully fitted to
a significant number of patients in the United States and Europe.
The i-LIMB Hand and ProDigits will be formally unveiled later this month at
the 12th World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics and
Orthotics in Vancouver, Canada.
The company also has a partial hand, ProDigits, which is adapted for
patients who have a partial hand, due either to congenitally missing fingers
or fingers lost through an accident. Partial hand is an area of prosthetics
that has been without suitable powered products in the past.
Hand offers a unique, highly intuitive control system that uses a
traditional myoelectric signal input to open and close the hand’s life-like
fingers. Myoelectric controls utilize the electrical signal generated by
muscles in the remaining portion of a patient’s limb. This signal is picked
up by electrodes that sit on the surface of the skin. Users of existing,
basic myoelectric prosthetic hands are able to quickly adapt to the system
and can master the device’s new functionality within minutes. For new
patients, the i-LIMB Hand offers a multi-function prosthetic solution that
has never before been available.
One of the recipients of the hand is
Sergeant Juan Arredondo of Universal City, Texas, who lost his hand in Iraq
in 2004 after his patrol vehicle was struck by an explosive device.
that I have the hand, it surprises me," said Sgt. Arredondo, who was with
the 2nd Infantry Division, 1/506th Destroyer Company. "Now I can pick up a
Styrofoam cup without crushing it. With my other myoelectric hand, I would
really have to concentrate on how much pressure I was putting on the cup.
The i-LIMB hand does things naturally. I can just grab the cup like a
Lindsay Block of Oklahoma City, OK, has had a lifetime of
experience with prosthetics. Born missing the lower part of her left arm as
the result of a birth defect, Ms. Block, now 26, has used almost every new
generation of prosthetic technology since being fitted with her first one
when only six months old. She is particularly impressed both by the
life-like look of the i-LIMB and by its extensive range of motion.
"When I’m wearing the i-LIMB Hand, I’m pretty sure that someone who doesn’t
know me wouldn’t even guess that it wasn’t my own hand," she said. "It’s
cool how it can adjust to whatever it is grabbing on to. With this new hand,
you don’t have to strategize so much about what you do with it because you
realize it’s not limited and will adjust depending on what it’s gripping on
"We are delighted to be the company that moves bionic hand technology
from the research and development phase into the real world, and to lead a
generational advance in bionics and patient care," said Touch Bionics CEO
Stuart Mead. "We have always existed to change the lives of patients with
severe injuries and disabilities, and it is thrilling to feel that we are
now able to accomplish that goal."
"I was amazed by how quickly I could
learn to do things with the i-LIMB Hand, even only an hour after being
fitted with the hand," said Donald McKillop of Kilmarnock, Scotland, one of
the first patients to be fitted with the i-LIMB Hand. "The most important
thing is the movement of the fingers, that’s what really makes the
difference. It’s truly incredible to see the fingers moving and gripping
around objects that I haven’t been able to pick up before. The hand does
feel like a real replacement for my missing hand and it is now very natural
for me to pick up all sorts of objects. It makes everyday activities much
Touch Bionics has developed a custom cosmesis, or covering, for
its products. i-LIMB Skin is a thin layer of semi-transparent material that
has been computer-modeled to accurately wrap to every contour of the hand.
"Cosmesis is a hugely important area in prosthetics, both for appearance and
for durability reasons. It is a vital component of our solution and brings
an added dimension of personal comfort and satisfaction to our patients,"
said Mead. "Some patients, especially soldiers, love the more robotic look
of the i-LIMB Skin, but others like their device to blend anatomically with
the rest of their body, and prefer to have a life-like covering for the
i-LIMB Hand and ProDigits."
For those patients who desire a more life-like
appearance for the hand, Touch Bionics has partnered with some leading
companies in the development of cosmesis for its products. ARTech
Laboratories and LIVINGSKIN are collaborating with Touch Bionics to offer
patients a life-like solution to compliment the life-like motions and
performance of the hand.
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