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Bionic hand made from plastics is launched

A bionic hand made from engineering plastics is being commercially launched today by the UK company that developed the prosthesis.

Touch Bionics, based in Livingston, Scotland, said its i-Limb Hand and ProDigits partial hand prostheses are being made generally available after patients in the US and Europe had successfully used them.

The company says the i-Limb Hand, which acts like a real hand, is the worlds first widely available prosthetic device with five individually powered digits. The ProDigits product, adapted for patients who have missing fingers, fills a gap in the field of prosthetics that has been without suitable powered products in the past.

The i-Limb Hands control system uses a traditional myoelectric signal input to open and close the fingers. An important difference from existing prostheses is the high degree of control that can be exerted by the patient.

In the US, a number of veterans from the Iraq conflict have been fitted with the i-Limb Hand who can now use a full range of grips in a natural way, according to Touch Bionics.

Donald McKillop of Kilmarnock, Scotland, was one of the first patients to be fitted with the i-Limb Hand. He said: The most important thing is the movement of the fingers, thats what really makes the difference. Its truly incredible to see the fingers moving and gripping around objects that I havent been able to pick up before.

DuPonts Zytel HTN semi-aromatic polyamide is used for the casing of the 33 components of the hand. DuPont Engineering Polymers was closely involved with Touch Bionics over 12 months of development work, not just in material selection, but also design and injection moulding considerations.

Touch Bionics chief executive Stuart Mead said: contrast to other prosthetics currently available, which are typically manufactured from aluminium and other metals, the ability to injection mould the components in Zytel HTN enables us to provide lighter weight functionality for patients.

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