December 9, 2009

World’s First Bionic Fingers Unveiled

Maria Antonia Iglesias, a former pianist from Catalonia, Spain, was overjoyed when she got what scientists call the first bionic fingers, according to BBC News.

Iglesias said the motor-powered devices allow her to pick up a glass, hold cutlery and write for the first time since she lost her digits after an illness.

The ProDigits were created by Touch Bionics, the Livingston, West Lothian company which made the bionic i-Limb hand.

The loss of two fingers can reduce hand function by up to 20 to 40%.

Ms. Iglesias, 42, lost hers after developing pneumococcal septic shock in 2003.

"I am very pleased to be part of this project and the benefits my new hand is giving me are like a dream," she said.

"Even a simple thing like holding and lifting a glass of water to drink from was impossible before, but with ProDigits I can do it easily."

The custom made ProDigits are fitted on to what remains of the hand, and can be controlled by myoelectric sensors which register muscle signals from the residual finger or palm.

Alternatively they can be controlled by a pressure sensitive touch pad, which relies on the remnant digit or tissue surrounding the metacarpal bone to provide the necessary pressure to activate the finger.

A special stall feature allows the device to detect when it has closed around an object so that it does not crush it.

The fake digits are covered in a high-tech robotic skin with many different colors to choose from and are tailor-made for each patient.

Scientists are eager to help other people like Ms. Iglesias in doing everyday activities.

Image Courtesy Michael Bailey, Touch Bionics


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