November 13, 2007
"The i-LIMB Hand, which uses human thought and muscles to move, is the world's first commercially available bionic hand. "
by Thomas Grose
The amazing prosthetic device is the invention of David Gow, an engineer who works for Britain's National Health Service (NHS). "It's the first hand to come to the market that's actually had bending fingers, just like your own hand," Gow, head of rehabilitation engineering services for the NHS in Lothian, Scotland, told the BBC. Each of the artificial hand's four fingers and opposable thumb has three articulated joints, just like real digits. And each is powered by its own individual motor. Movement is controlled by myoelectric sensors (myo is Latin for muscle) that pick up electrical signals from the arm's remaining muscles. As a result, the prosthetic hand has a very humanlike grip, and users are able to master it within minutes. The i-LIMB Hand was tested at a prosthetics center within the engineering department of Scotland's Strathclyde University. The manufacturer and distributor is Touch Bionics of Edinburgh. One of the amputees who tested the device is retired U.S. Army sergeant Juan Arredondo of Universal City,Texas, who lost his left hand in lraq. Says Arredondo: "Everyday I have the hand, it surprises me."