Partial-Hand Amputees Get Better Bionic Fingers

It seems like every few weeks someone claims to have built the newest and most revolutionary prosthetic hand, and while breakthroughs on that front are amazing, what about all the partial-hand amputees, those that have only lost a finger or two, or perhaps a thumb? UK firm Touch Bionics has introduced a system geared directly toward those that, though missing a digit or four, still have working muscle and tendon in their hands. These bionic fingers let their wearers--a 1.2-million-strong group that, until now, has been largely ignored--regain the ability to type, use a fork and knife and more.

Touch Bionics' ProDigits system can be customized regardless of a particular hand's shape or which digits are missing, allowing clinicians to mimic the missing anatomy. Each digit can bend, touch, and point individually, and can take command from either a myoelectric sensor that registers muscle signals from residual nerves and muscle in the hand, or pressure activated switches that are actually pushed by remnant digits.

For people like Maria Antonia Iglesias, a former concert pianist in Catalonia, Spain, who lost her fingers to illness, ProDigits have allowed here to do simple things like hold a glass and write for the first time. Though Iglesias was one of the first amputees outfitted with the system, there are now more than 30 patients taking advantage of ProDigits enhanced dexterity and control. As you'll see, it sure beats a static prosthetic. Check out the prosthesis in the video below, and see more photos in the gallery here.

Maria Iglesias's New Dexterity

Former concert pianist Maria Antonia Iglesias lost her fingers to illness, but her new digits have restored a good deal of function to her hands.Touch Bionics

Typing With Prosthetic Digits

Touch Bionics

Picking Up the Pieces With the ProDigits System

Touch Bionics

ProDigits Puts Amputees Back in The Saddle

Touch Bionics

Back in the Game

Touch Bionics