Open Bionics, a Bristol-based firm that develops low-cost bionic hands, is undergoing clinical a six-month clinical trial for bionic hands designed for children.
The company is working with 10 children form a local hospital in Bristol, to test new bionic hands created by the company, which is the first of its kind. The bionic hands are expected to be made available for children around the world.
Based on various Disney characters, the company developed 3D-printed devices for child amputees, at a fraction of the cost of current models.
An 11-year-old girl named Tilly Lockey, from Durham, who lost her hands due to meningitis, is using the prototype created by Open Bionics. Her experience using the bionic hand, was highlighted in a few words, “The bionic hand looks awesome and it makes me feel confident. Instead of people thinking they feel sorry for you because you don’t have a hand, they’re like: ‘Oh my gosh, that’s a cool hand!’”.
The hands are made using cutting-edge 3D scanning and printing techniques to ensure a good fit and take up to a day to be made, costing around US$ 700. Whereas, the prosthetics with controllable fingers, which are not very suitable for growing children, cost up to US$ 84,000.
The company makes use of a 3D printer to create the light-weight hand in four separate parts, custom-built to fit the patient using scans of their body.
Sensors are attached to the skin of the user to detect muscle movements, which are used to control the hand, as well as to open and close the fingers depending on the will of the user.
Disney Inc. and Open Bionics have entered into a royalty-free agreement, allowing the bionics making company to design devices based on Disney characters such as Iron Man, Frozen, and Star Wars.
Open Bionics received US$ 140,000 from the Small Business Research Initiatives scheme to successfully fund its trial, which it being conducted in collaboration with the North Bristol NHS hospital trust.
On success of the trial, the company will be eligible to apply for a grant of US$ 1400720, to offer the product at NHS clinics across the U.K. The team of researchers hope that this development would aid in providing cost-effective prosthetic limbs to over 30 million people worldwide.