Bionic hands for children may soon be available on the NHS as the world’s first clinical trial of a new type of prosthesis begins this week.
The 3D-printed devices for child amputees, based on popular Disney characters, are designed to be produced at a fraction of a cost of current models. A Bristol based firm called Open Bionics won the prestigious Jame Dyson award for innovative engineering in 2015 and subsequenlty went on to win a £100,000 award from the Small Business Research Initiatives scheme. The money is helping to fund the trial, which it is conducting with the North Bristol NHS hospital trust and they are now now working with 10 children at a local hospital. Tilly Lockey is one of those kids.
Currently-available prosthetics with controllable fingers can cost up to £60,000, often prohibitive to growing children. The new lightweight design by Open Bionics uses a 3D printer to create the hand in four separate parts, custom-built to fit the patient using scans of their body. Sensors attached to the skin detect the user’s muscle movements, which can be used to control the hand and open and close the fingers.
The hands cost £5,000 and only take one day to make, using cutting-edge 3D scanning and printing techniques to ensure a good fit.
These are prosthetics kids can get really excited about and feel proud to wear. They’re not just getting medical devices, they’re getting bionic hands inspired by their favorite characters. The Walt Disney Company is generously donating the time of its creative teams and providing royalty free licenses. More designs coming soon!