Researchers at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands have developed a lightweight, body-powered prosthetic hand with articulating fingers, according to a news release.
For his PhD dissertation, GerwinSmit, MSc, a PhD candidate at the Delft Institute of Prosthetics and Orthotics, compared upper extremity body-powered prosthesis use with data from 1987 and found that today’s body-powered prosthetic hands demonstrated little improvement in the past 16 years. The study also showed that grip strength of the hands was insufficient and a very high operating force was required.
“The study offers a possible explanation for why over half of all people with a body-powered prosthetic hand do not use it or even wear it,” Smit stated in the release. “Besides this, some prosthetic arm users tend to suffer overload problems over time. These problems may well be a result of the excessive operating force required.”
Based on his research, which was published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Smit developed a light-weight body-powered prosthesis with articulating fingers. The prosthesis, called the Delft Cylinder Hand, is hydraulically driven.
“The Delft Cylinder Hand is more than 50% lighter than the lightest electric prosthesis — less than 217 grams,” Smit stated in the release. “The pinching force is greater than 30 Newton. It uses much less energy and the costs are not higher than in electric prostheses.”
The Delft Cylinder Hand is currently being tested at the TU Delft.
For more information:
Smit G. JRehabilRes Dev. 2012. 49(4):523-34.