A teenage boy who lost an arm and a leg as a baby has become the first person in the UK to be fitted with a prosthetic hand that is so advanced it can be controlled via a smartphone app. Patrick Kane, 16, is now sporting the i-limb ultra revolution, which can be remotely-controlled and comes complete with an iOS app allowing the wearer to control its grip.
Patrick can also take advantage of five individually powered digits – including a rotating thumb – on the prosthetic, which is Scottish firm Touch Bionics’ most advanced yet.
The teenager, from London, lost all of the fingers on his left hand after contracting meningococcal septicaemia – the virulent form of meningitis – when he was just nine-months-old.
Doctors were also forced to amputate Patrick’s right leg below the knee, and part of each finger from his right hand.
The student – who was fitted with his first prosthetic through the NHS shortly after his first birthday – previously wore an i-limb ultra, but has now become the first person in the UK to be fitted with the new, more advanced version from the brains at Touch Bionics.
Featuring a rotating wrist and an aluminium chassis, the firm claims their creation is the most dextrous prosthetic limb ever made.
It’s unique app capability means the wearer can choose from a range of 24 different grips at the touch of a button. The app can also offers training on how to best use the device and can diagnose problems with it.
Previously Patrick could use only four pre-set grips on the go, and would have to return to his computer to alter the settings.
The i-limb is so sensitive it can be used to grip a single sheet of paper, play Connect Four or tie shoelaces – but it is also powerful enough to withstand the strain of 90kg weights in the gym.
The covering can be made to match the wearer’s natural skin tone, but Patrick chose a jet black version of the i-limb, which costs from £25,000 to upwards of £80,000, depending on how far up the arm it needs to extend.
‘I have only had it for 24 hours and it’s not so much that it allows me to do new things but it will allow me to do things more smoothly and naturally,’ Patrick said.
‘The movement runs much more smoothly. I have been practising playing Connect 4 with it.
‘There are custom grips I can choose so if I have a certain tennis racquet or cricket bat I could choose a grip for it to fit it perfectly and it will remember that.
‘I also use it in the gym, on the rowing machine and using weights and pulleys,’ he said.
The advanced prosthetic uses muscle signals to shift into a series of pre-set patterns.
It achieves this by using electrodes in the wrist to pick up electrical impulses created by contracting muscles, which are interpreted by a computer in the back of the hand.
Each of the fingers bends at the joints and can be adapted to fit around any shape of object the owner wants to hold.
These pictures show Patrick using his new bionic hand to grasp a range of items from a smartphone and a water glass to a rubber ball and a single coin.
The bionic hand can also be used for various tasks from typing to tying shoe laces.
It comes in black or neutral, can automatically return to a natural position after a period of inactivity and is powered by a battery.
The device is so technical that users have to undergo rigorous training in order to get the most out of it.