The Future of Prosthetics Technology

Aditi Kaveti ’23

prosthetichand
Figure 1. A conventional prosthetic hand can have the mobility of a human hand.

People with hand amputations often rely on prosthetic hands and services and face difficult daily challenges in performing simple tasks. The conventional prosthetic hand restores mobility but does not provide realistic human hand-like features. The inability to perform daily activities affects the quality of life and can be damaging to the patient’s mental health and well-being. A new electronic glove boasts the ability to emulate a human hand and allow prosthetic-hand users to feel more comfortable in social contexts.

While technologies embedded within a prosthetic hand can be costly, this electronic glove is more affordable, thus making the product more accessible. It can be manufactured in high volume because it is built on a commercial nitrile glove. The electronic glove is worn over a prosthetic hand and offers human-like experiences including warmth, appearance, and sensory perception. Flexible sensors in the glove collect information about the environment such as humidity, pressure, and electrophysiological biosignals. The information is further  translated to a wristwatch unit to convey real-time data sensory data to prosthetic hand users.

The glove improves upon the design of a conventional prosthetic hand by making users feel as if they have a human hand. It can fit over any hand shape, is available in different skin tones, and even has lifelike fingerprints and artificial fingernails. The glove’s ability to mimic the appearance of a human hand will significantly improve the well-being of prosthetic hand users by allowing for easier integration into social contexts. Researchers at Purdue’s College of Engineering are now awaiting clinical trials as they continue to advance the capabilities of the glove.

 

References:

  1. M. Kim, et. al., Soft-packaged sensory glove system for human-like natural interaction and control of prosthetic hands. NPG Asia Materials 11, (2019) doi: 10.1038/s41427-019-0143-9
  2. Image retrieved from: https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/News/Article/Article/1037447/darpa-provides-groundbreaking-bionic-arms-to-walter-reed/ 

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