Home Career New Breath-Controlled Concept Transforms Access to Prosthetic Arms – ScienceDaily

New Breath-Controlled Concept Transforms Access to Prosthetic Arms – ScienceDaily


The new pneumatically actuated arm provides a lightweight, low-maintenance and easy-to-use prosthetic option that is particularly well-suited for children and people in low- and middle-income countries.

Researchers at the University of Oxford have developed a revolutionary new prosthetic arm that works and is controlled by the user’s breath.

The simple, lightweight device offers an alternative to Bowden cable-controlled, body-powered prostheses originally developed in the early 19thousand century – especially for those who are too young or anatomically unfit for an uncomfortable harness and cable system.

Senior author Professor Jeroen Bergman, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering, said: “Our breathing device provides a new prosthetic option that can be used without restricting the user’s body movements. This is one of the first truly new approaches to power and control of a body-powered prosthesis since the introduction of the cable system more than two centuries ago.”

Although several different prosthetic options exist (suitability depends on the difference between the upper limbs, among other factors), little progress has been made in developing new approaches to power and control body-powered devices compared to complex prostheses with external nutrition.

The most widely used functional upper extremity prosthesis is still the cable-operated, actuated system, which can be prohibitively expensive to own and maintain in low-resource settings due to the costs associated with the professional installation required and service.

A new approach published in the journal Prostheticsprovides an alternative body-powered device for users in situations where cost, maintenance, comfort and ease of use are primary considerations.

By regulating their breathing, users power a small custom-built Tesla turbine that can precisely control the movements of the prosthetic finger. The volume of air required to power the device can be reached by small children, and the gear in the device determines the speed of capture.

With no cable or harness, the device is lightweight and suitable for growing children and teenagers. Ease of use compared to other prosthetic options requires minimal maintenance and training.

The researchers worked with LimbBo, the UK’s leading charity for children with multiple disabilities, to develop and perfect the device.

Jane Hewitt, Trustee of LimbBo, said: “One of our aims at the LimbBo Foundation is to ensure that all our children have access to any device that will help them in their everyday lives. No two limb differences are the same, and what works for one child may not work for another. Currently, there is some choice regarding prosthetics, but there are still children who need a completely different approach. For many, the absence of an elbow severely limits their access to prosthetics, so we welcomed the opportunity to engage with Professor Jeroen Bergman to consider different approaches. This is an exciting development for many of our children.”

She added: “We welcome this research as a completely different approach to enabling our children to receive the help that such a prosthesis would provide them.” The element of choice is important and we will fully support any research and development plans that allow this. We believe that by including us in the discussion, the team at Oxford really want the best for our children.’

Spokesperson for Mobility India, The NGO, which is based in Bengaluru, India and is working with researchers on user testing, said: “The Airbender Prosthesis can expand prosthetic options for children and adolescents, especially in India and other developing countries where the technology is lacking.” .

First author Dr Vikrant H Nagaraja, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering, said: “It is estimated that more than 40 million people worldwide have limb differences – most of whom do not have access to any form of prosthetics. Additionally, upper limb prostheses currently available to patients are often unaffordable and inappropriate, especially in resource-constrained settings. We hope that our research is a step towards making prostheses more affordable and help overcome the problems with current options.”

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Materials is provided Oxford University. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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