Argentinean researchers have developed a low-cost bionic hand promising to make cutting-edge prosthetics more accessible.
Dubbed the ‘first prosthetic arm in Latin America’, the sensor-fitted structure can respond to nerve impulses allowing amputees to better control their limbs
"It detects electrical signals that are generated by the muscles at the point of contact between the arm and the prosthetic," said engineer Sebastian Vicario, who is working on the project for Bioparx Health Technology, based in provincial capital Santa Fe.
"The impulse is sent to a micro-controller that relays the signal to a motor that moves the hand," Vicario added.
Expected to hit the market next year, the Argentinean bionic hand was developed at about half the cost of other similar devices. It will sell for about $22,000. The average price of existing electronic prosthetic arms is currently about $47,000. Bioparx hopes the relatively low cost will help make the device more accessible and allow insurance companies to include it into their coverage plans.
The bionic skeleton of the prosthetic has a flexible claw-like hand consisting of a thumb, index and middle finger. It is covered with a lifelike glove that can sport rings, bracelets, nail polish, anything to lend a normal look while allowing wearers to perform such tasks as writing and washing dishes.
"It's nice to be able to do things that I have not been able to, mainly stuff around the house," said Stella Azambullo, who lost her right arm in an industrial accident. "I can finally move freely. Not 100 per cent, but mostly," added the patient, who had been testing the novel bionic arm for the past two years.