Prosthetic Arms Are Becoming Increasingly More Realistic

    November 26, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

Prosthetic limbs have come a long way over the years, but a lot of them still can’t replicate the precise motion that natural limbs perform on a daily basis. That’s quickly changing, however, as one company has already given Nigel Ackland, a 53-year-old who lost his arm six-years-ago, a prosthetic arm that functions just as well as any natural arm.

The arm is called the bebionic 3, and it’s name is intentional. Sci-fi may have come up with the idea of a bionic man, but this arm just proves that sci-fi is now becoming a reality. It’s a triumph in and of itself that this latest prosthetic limb looks and behaves like the real deal, but the real accomplishment lies in how the arm can be programmed to move at the correct speed and strength for each individual.

The arm has obviously made Ackland’s life better, but it’s the small things that really stand out. In the video, he makes his hand go into handshaking mode, and says that it’s what makes us human. That’s the point of this kind of technology – giving people their humanity back. You could argue that a person is no less of a human after losing a limb, but those who suffer through it would likely tell you that there is a feeling of loss. Getting that back may be physically gratifying, but it’s probably even more psychologically gratifying.

It’s not perfect. There’s still obviously some limitations in place that prevent the bebionic3 from being as flexible as a natural hand, but it’s still amazing that we’ve come this far. The technology will only improve, and soon those with these prosthetic limbs will be moving their hands just as naturally as anybody else. In fact, they might even be better as their arms are stronger than any human arm could ever be.

[h/t: psfk]
  • http://openprosthetics.org Jon Kuniholm

    This hand is interesting, but in some ways its attempts to look human shortchange function. Check out what can be done with a prosthetic hook here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9njuROKLlk

    Also note the uncomfortable looking socket that he’s wearing. We’re trying to address the problem of socket comfort (which results in the vast majority of abandonments of arms) by making arms less like dutch wooden shoes and more like athletic shoes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPZnMIDPGsk

    One of the problems with the way people with two hands approach this problems is the focus on form over function, and the cost that this exacts in engineering compromises.