Remote Control Bionic Hand Praised

A teenager who lost an arm and leg as a baby has become the first person in the UK to receive a revolutionary bionic hand which can be manipulated by remote control.

Patrick Kane, 16, from London, was fitted with the i-limb ultra revolution and has described its functions as "priceless".

The hand was developed by Touch Bionics, a world leader in prosthetic technologies, based in Livingston, West Lothian, and is promoted as their most dexterous product to date.

The teenager has had previous models of i-limbs since 2010 when he became the youngest person to be fitted with one.

He says the i-limb has made a big impact on his life and he could not now imagine living without one.

During a visit to the company's headquarters, Patrick said:

"I would hate to have to rely on someone.

"Previously, I would have to say 'excuse me, would you mind if you tied my shoe lace for me?' I personally find that a little bit embarrassing.

"I am still very good if I am not wearing the arm but it gives me that extra level and now I can really do anything that I want with it."

The new version provides greater movement in the thumb and can be controlled by muscle contraction or a mobile phone app.

The biosim app has 24 pre-programmed hand positions, aka Quick Grips, which the user can select from with the touch of a button.

Patrick said:

"It will allow me to do things that I could do previously but quicker, more efficiently and more fluidly, and overall give it a much more natural look to the way I move.

"It will really help me in every little activity, it's a slight difference but a very important one to me."

Patrick lost part of his left arm and right leg after he contracted meningococcal septicaemia when he was nine months old and doctors said he was lucky to have survived.

He explained that he has not always been keen on the idea of using a prosthetic arm.

He said:

"Initially for about a week I wore a purely cosmetic arm which did nothing, it didn't move at all.

"It just sat and looked like a hand, and I couldn't stand that. Even though I just have a stump I learned to used it in so many ways. The cosmetic hand really hindered me a lot.

"I said I would only get a prosthesis if it really aided my dexterity and allowed me to do more as opposed to looking nice.

"I see it [having a cosmetic arm] as hiding and I have nothing to hide. If anything I love talking about it to people. It stands out and I don't want it to blend in because I'm quite proud of it."

The mechanical i-limb is placed over Patrick's arm and two sensors are located over muscles and it is the contraction of these muscles which can control the movement of the arm - including the thumb.

Previously, Patrick would have had to manually move the thumb into position with his other hand but the new "powered rotation" of the thumb means it turns automatically.

This latest development has made him even more enthusiastic about the potential for future models.

"I just know it's going to get better and it's slowly going to get more and more advanced - I can't wait for that," said Patrick.

"It's very exciting to be at the current pinacle and where it might go from here."

Ian Stevens, chief executive of Touch Bionics, said:

"We believe that the i-limb ultra revolution, with powered thumb rotation and the ability to quickly access multiple grip patterns, offers unparalleled dexterity and control, enabling wearers to more easily perform activities of daily living and thus increase their quality of life."