The sophisticated devices, which cost $100,000 apiece, are designed to allow for independent control of the fingers.
By Sue Thoms, Michigan Live – Filed Oct 28, 2014
Pam Buschle’s new hands have four fingers and a thumb and look like the real thing, except for the electronics seen below the transparent covering. More importantly, the myoelectric hands she practiced using Monday, Oct. 27, function more like the real thing than the claw-shaped prosthesis she has been using.
“This feels more natural,” Buschle said. She opened closed the fingers of her left hand with a soft whirring sound during a demonstration at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. The sophisticated devices, which cost $100,000 apiece, are i-limb ultra revolution hands and are the latest prosthetic created by Touch Bionics. They offer the flexibility and dexterity that will allow her to function far more independently at home and at her job as a school social worker, Buschle said.
She is still practicing with the hands. After fine-tuning of the devices, she will likely take the pair home next week, said prosthetist Katie Johnson.
Buschle, a 54-year-old East Grand Rapids woman, had both hands and feet amputated in January during a seven-week bout with sepsis. In months of physical therapy, she has learned to walk independently on prosthetic legs and use claw-shaped prosthetic hands for everyday tasks.
But her new hands are a major step toward resuming the life she had before the amputations.
“I have wanted these from one of the first days,” she said. “I’m very excited to have them. They are going to allow me to do so many different things so easily.”
The hands will be useful in her job as a social worker at Kentwood’s Challenger and Brookwood elementary schools, as she does activities with students and writes reports.
“It will be especially nice just because I will be able to really play with the kids,” she said.
She opens and closes the hands by contracting the muscles of her forearms. The hands are designed to allow for independent control of the fingers.
“They move in unison but they can move independently,” Johnson said. She demonstrated by having Buschle close her hand around a spray bottle. The index finger curled in farther than the others as it grasped a narrower part of the bottle.
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