The prosthesis amputees want
Working with amputees to design inexpensive prosthetic hands that work well
Think 1 second about how many things you can do with your hands. Losing a limb changes your life forever. What if you could take your prosthesis destiny in your own hands?
In our research group, we have been working on prosthesis control and development of affordable prostheses for several years (ninapro). 3D printing, open-source software and publicly available 3D models are a game changer (HANDI Hand, enablingthefuture, openbionics.com).
Prosthetic hands can be very costly, they need to be adapted to user needs and often people stop using them because they are not satisfied. They can be cumbersome to use, uncomfortable, require maintenance, and in most cases, have little changed in the last decades.
As we have been working with amputees, we realized how much knowledge of the situation they have. Involving an amputee into the development of his/her own prosthetic hand seemed like a natural choice. As researchers, we have a habit of looking at a problem from a scientific standpoint. For amputees, simple functionality, reliability and robustness are the main problems in everyday life.
The Cybathlon is a competition that evaluates assistive devices and prostheses in such situations. Cybathlon pilots are the amputees that use the device at the competition. So, who should know better than them the requirements of the prosthesis?
To reach the needs of amputees, user centered design is fundamental. This allows to develop an ergonomic, robust device based on the latest approaches in multi-modal machine learning.
If you are interested to know more about what we are doing in this context, stay tuned and look at the webpage of the ProHand project funded by Hasler foundation!