SFU researchers test newly developed advanced, more intuitive bionic hand
Researchers at Simon Fraser University are testing their new control system for a bionic hand they developed after extensive research. The bionic hand will be presented at the world’s first Cyborg Olympics in Zurich in October 2016. Fraser will be the only Canadian university to participate in the event along with many innovators from 30 other nations.
Recently, researchers at Ohio State and Battelle Memorial Institute had created NeuroLife – a system that restored cortical control in a quadriplegic Ohio man. It was a milestone in medical history and a ray of strong hope for disabled people. It’s quite incredible to realize how technology is helping us to deal with health issues and changing lives of people.
Now, researchers at Fraser are testing their new system on a paralympic skier, Danny Letain, who had lost his left arm below the elbow 35 years ago. The subject is able to move his fingers and said it felt like he was able to close and open his hand. The experience, he said, was similar to using original fingers.
The new system known as M.A.S.S. Impact or Mass Activity Sensor Strip, and it was demonstrated by researchers at the University’s Burnaby, B.C. campus on Tuesday.
The system includes a pressure sensor armband to track movements in remaining muscles as he performs intuitive action or say he tries to grab an object. This data is then mapped from the sensors by computer algorithms to move the bionic hand. Letain was given few minutes to train after which he was able to pick up objects on a table, like tennis ball and screw. He was also able to cut bread, which he had least expected after losing his hand.
According to the researchers, their newly developed control system had advantages over other similar innovations. With this system, user will not have to follow the old process of learning how to isolate specific muscles in the arm to power the fingers. Rather, this system will allow subjects to use their muscles naturally. Integrated sensors in the socket can recognize pressure map for a specific grip pattern, conveying the command to the hand.
Team has used a standard hook prosthesis that depends on elbow and shoulder movement to work with a limited motion range.
The team is very excited about the possibilities and prospects of their innovation and hopes to develop much refiner prototype to compete at the first cyborg Olympics.