Touch Bionics, a Scotland firm that developed the i-LIMB Hand, a prosthesis with five individually powered fingers, has announced the availability of the device. The company, an Edinburgh medical device developer, is also making ProDigits partial hand prostheses, based on similar technology.
Here’s the idea behind the device, and reaction from some patients:
The i-LIMB 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.
“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 easier.”
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 work at the forefront of high-definition cosmesis — these companies are collaborating with Touch Bionics to offer patients a life-like solution to compliment the life-like motions and performance of the hand.
The i-LIMB Hand and ProDigits products are being shipped today and patients are being fitted at all of the clinics mentioned above in addition to other US clinics, as well as at Touch Bionics’ new state-of-the-art facility in Livingston, Scotland.
Product page: The i-LIMB Hand …
Press release: Amputees Embracing World’s First Bionic Hand …
Patients Picture Gallery…
(hat tip: MTB Europe)
Flashbacks: Medgadget Archive on Bionic Prostheses
UPDATE (07/19/07): Video of i-LIMB Hand