Researchers Develop Lighter, Cheaper Prosthetic Hand

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Researchers at the Rome-based Italian Institute of Technology (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, IIT) and Italian Workers' Compensation Authority (Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione, INAIL) prosthetic center have developed a prosthetic hand they say allows users to grip objects with more precision and features a design that is less expensive to produce than other myoelectric prostheses.

Called the Hannes hand after Hannes Schmidl, the first technical director of INAIL's prosthesis center and a pioneer in myoelectric prosthetic devices, the prosthesis has only one motor that controls all five fingers, making it lighter, less expensive, and better able to adapt to the shape of objects. IIT and INAIL expect to bring the device it to market in Europe in 2019 with an approximate price of €10,000 ($11,900).

"This can be considered low-cost because we reduce to the minimum the mechanical complexity to achieve…a very effective grasp, and a very effective behavior of the prosthesis," Lorenzo De Michieli, PhD, told the Associated Press in an interview May 10. "We maximized the effectiveness of the prosthetics, and we minimized the mechanical complexity." De Michieli is the coordinator of the IIT INAIL Lab, a joint technology transfer lab that develops prosthetic, orthotic, and rehabilitation devices.