By: Sang Hyo Kim, Staff Editor
There is a new invention called “i-limb ultra revolution,” which allows amputees to control their prosthetic hands with an Apple® app called “Bioism.” Designed by Touch Bionics in the United Kingdom, the new prosthetic hand has five individually powered fingers, including a powered rotating thumb and an auto-grasp feature that prevents slippage. There are 24 different grips an amputee can choose from on their app control that allows greater functionality.1
Aimee Copeland, a 22-year-old amputee who spent a week in the United Kingdom for the fitting of her “bionic hands,” returned home to Atlanta, where she looks forward to cooking her own food. Copeland explained, “[The prosthetic hands] just mimics so well a natural hand that it really just reminds me of before the accident how I would have done things.” With 24 different types of grip patterns to choose from, Copeland will be able to use her new hands as she once did for mundane tasks such as chopping vegetables, picking up small pieces of candy, and even straightening her hair.2
The advancement of technology helps amputees like Copeland get back on track. Jason Koger, another double amputee and the first in the world to receive a pair of bionic hands, explained how he felt being able to hold his daughter’s hands for the first time in five years. “I can’t tell you what a gift that feels like,” Koger says. Although he emphasizes that it may take longer for him to perform daily tasks, he feels that he is a more active participant everyday with these new hands.1
The i-limb™ ultra is the most recent and versatile prosthetic hand. i-limb™’s upgrade on pulsing and vari-grip allows amputees to increase the strength of their grip on an object, which is extremely helpful when tying a shoelace or holding a bag.3 Despite its advantages, the Bioism app can only control upper limbs of the body. Amputees who will receive prosthetic legs still have to wait for companies like Touch Bionics to develop advanced features so that the legs can be as easily facilitated as the hands.
Although Copeland received the prosthetic hands for free as an ambassador for Touch Bionics, a spokesman for Touch Bionics confirmed that each i-limb™ ultra revolution can cost up to $120,000.2 The cost can be expected to gradually decrease within years, since i-limb™’s release is still very recent. Despite the hefty price tag, the new invention gives hope to amputees around the world that the latest technology can have a life impacting change.
- Thompson P. New Prosthetic hands controlled by iPhone app allows user to control all five fingers independently choosing from 24 programmed grips. Mail online. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2309754/New-prosthetic-hands-controlled-iPhone-app-allows-user-control-fingers-independently-choosing-24-programed-grips.html. Published April 16, 2013. Accessed June 10th, 2013
- Martinez M. After ravages of flesh-eating bacteria, Aimee Copeland uses new bionic hands. CNN U.S. http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/17/us/georgia-aimee-copeland. Published May 20, 2013. Accessed June 11th, 2013
- i-limb ultra. Touch Bionics. http://www.touchbionics.com/products/active-prostheses/i-limb-ultra/. Accessed June 19t, 2013