Affordable Prosthetic Hand Gives Sense of Touch

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An Indian start-up has developed an affordable prosthesis that provides a sense of touch, grip control, and user-specific adaptive shape control for people with transradial amputations without surgery or brain-computer implants.

The prosthesis, called Grippy, developed by Robo Bionics, Vasai, India, has been tested on 15 users in an internal pilot study and is currently undergoing testing in Pune, India, at a lab accredited by the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories. There are plans to launch the product this year.

Robo Bionics is supported by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Patna and the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay. Five alumni of IIT Patna and the University Of Mumbai founded the company in 2016.

Llewellyn Dsa, a company cofounder, told Newz Hook that there is a lack of awareness about prostheses in India. "We found people had no idea there were devices that would help them cope with day to day life," he said. Close to 1.6 million people in India have a hand amputation, 65 percent of whom have a transradial amputation.

"Like the Jaipur Foot, there are cosmetic hands that are fitted into the residual limb but have no function," Llewellyn told Newz Hook. "At the other end of the spectrum are Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO) devices that are cheaper but offer limited movement, as these are body powered so need a particular movement to open or close."

Battery-operated prostheses are too expensive for most Indians, and prosthetic devices must be fitted by experts approved by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). There are only 2,500 such professionals in the country with a population of over 1.35 billion as of 2018. RCI-approved professionals will make the socket that connects the part between Grippy and the user's hand, which can be done in one day.