A new prosthetic hand uses individually movable fingers to hold a credit card, use a keyboard and lift a heavy bag.
Researchers bill it as the world’s first commercially available prosthetic hand that can move each finger separately. The i-LIMB, made by the Scottish company Touch Bionics, is being tested at the Orthopedic University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.
The hydraulic hand went on sale in Britain last year for about $17,500 and is being used by a small number of people. The company began operations in the United States earlier this year and plans to make the device more widely available.
Unlike similar models that allowed gripping with just the thumb and one or two fingers, the i-LIMB allows a user to grab something with all five. It also feels softer and more natural than the typically hard prosthetics of old, its maker says.
Flexible hydraulic drives are located directly in the movable finger joints, and the prosthetic hand gives feedback to the user’s stump, enabling the amputee to sense the strength of the grip.
A ‘bionic eye’ may hold the key to returning sight to people left blind by a hereditary disease, experts believe.
A team at London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital have carried out the treatment on the UK’s first patients as part of a clinical study into the therapy.
The artificial eye, connected to a camera on a pair of glasses, has been developed by US firm Second Sight.
It said the technique may be able to restore a basic level of vision, but experts warned it was still early days.
The trial aims to help people who have been made blind through retinitis pigmentosa, a group of inherited eye diseases that affects the retina.
A team of 36 scientists have developed a mini device which could help the visually impaired to get their sight sense back. The research was called The Boston Retinal Implant Project and it was started by Dr. Joseph Rizzo III back in the 1980s. This bionic device is small enough to be implanted in the eye and it will send images to the brain through a connector the thickness of human hair.
This will be possible within a few years because the mini-technology has developed so much over the last 20 years when it was started this project. Dr. Rizzo says that the bionic retinal device acts like a light transmitter and for the moment it’s supposed to restore partial sight for the blind people, but not for all of them – this doesn’t work for people who are blind since they were born and for those who suffer from glaucoma.
A research team from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have managed to “build” a mini-system made of human nervous cells. According to their studies, soldiers will be able to control the battlesuits with the help of their own nerve impulses and cyber-sex could go to the next level, the participants will feel the same pleasure as the one during “normal” sex.
This technology also has a good side – it could regrow human nerves and to repair potential damaged nerves. The first tests were made on rats, were successful, but they also tested it on humans and the results were amazing. They managed to grow neurons which lived for three months in a special “growth chamber”.
A state-of-the-art robotic arm being developed at DEKA Research and Development in Manchester has enabled double amputee Chuck Hildreth to perform feats he never thought he would be able to accomplish again.
Hildreth, 44, lost both arms 26 years ago while painting a power substation; 15,000 volts of electricity surged through his body. His right arm was burned so badly doctors had to remove the shoulder blade and were able to save only a stub of his less-damaged left arm. He also lost three toes on each foot.
After years of using and discarding a number of clumsy and uncomfortable prosthetic devices, Hildreth is now one of three men taking part in the testing of the new prosthetic device known as the “Luke Arm” for its resemblance to the one Luke Skywalker was fitted with in the second “Star Wars” movie.
“I’m very fortunate to be part of this project. It’s one of the things I never thought I’d see in my lifetime,” Hildreth said.
Within hours of being outfitted with the arm, he was able to pick up pieces of wood, use a cordless power drill and even pick up a sheetrock screw and use the drill to put it into a sheetrock board.
A “pacemaker” for the human brain might be on the horizon
A 50 year old man, dangerously obese, goes to the hospital for experimental brain surgery to suppress his appetite. A small piece of his skull is removed, and an electrical probe inserted deep into his brain tissue. It reaches his hypothalamus and current is switched on. Suddenly the patient — awake through the procedure — begins to speak uncontrollably about events in his past, events he had long forgotten. He remembers a day’s walk in the park 30 years ago, complete with what people were wearing, all in vivid color. He sees them speaking to him, every motion they made. The intensity and level of detail of the memories is frightening.
The scene may read like the script of a bad science fiction flick but it comes from an unidentified patient at Ontario’s Toronto Western Hospital. No one was more astonished than the man’s doctors, who began to experiment further on him. Over the next few weeks, they continued testing. His ability to both learn and remember was substantially increased when the electrodes were turned on. Continuous stimulation also had a residual effect — after the electrodes were off, there was still a slight benefit.
Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bleill lost both his legs above the knees when a bomb exploded under his Humvee while on patrol in Iraq on October 15, 2006. He has 32 pins in his hip and a 6-inch screw holding his pelvis together.
Now, he’s starting to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs outfitted with Bluetooth technology more commonly associated with hands-free cell phones.
“They’re the latest and greatest,” Bleill said, referring to his groundbreaking artificial legs.
Bleill, 30, is one of two Iraq war veterans, both double leg amputees, to use the Bluetooth prosthetics. Computer chips in each leg send signals to motors in the artificial joints so the knees and ankles move in a coordinated fashion.
Bleill’s set of prosthetics have Bluetooth receivers strapped to the ankle area. The Bluetooth device on each leg tells the other leg what it’s doing, how it’s moving, whether walking, standing or climbing steps, for example.
“They mimic each other, so for stride length, for amount of force coming up, going uphill, downhill and such, they can vary speed and then to stop them again,” Bleill told CNN from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he’s undergoing rehab.
Researchers at the University of Washington managed to embed an electronic circuit and LEDs directly into contact lenses, which seemed to look good on rabbit eyes. Though the circuit is not functional and the lights don’t light up, the development shows that future applications like direct video to the eye may indeed be possible.
The prototype contact lens does not correct the wearer’s vision, but the technique could be used on a corrective lens, Parviz said. And all the gadgetry won’t obstruct a person’s view.
“There is a large area outside of the transparent part of the eye that we can use for placing instrumentation,” Parviz said. Future improvements will add wireless communication to and from the lens. The researchers hope to power the whole system using a combination of radio-frequency power and solar cells placed on the lens, Parviz said.
German researchers have developed an artificial cornea that promises easy integration with a patient’s native cornea, and prevents cellular hyperplasia on its plastic surface
Researchers in Dr. Karin Kobuch’s working group at Regensburg University Hospital have already tested these corneas in the laboratory and found that their cells graft very well at the edge and cease growing where the coating stops. The optical center of the implant thus remains clear. The first implants have already been tested in rabbits’ eyes – with promising results. If further tests are successful, the technology will be tried on humans in 2008.