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New details of revolutionary bionic hand technology revealed at Rehacare 2006.

Dusseldorf, Germany: Touch Bionics, the award winning bionic technology company that specialises in Upper Limb Prosthetics (ULP), today disclosed further information about its much anticipated i-LIMBTM Hand technology.

The i-LIMB Hand is the first commercial product available from Touch Bionics' i-LIMB System which will ultimately be a complete endoskeletal Upper Limb Prosthetic system - from an individual missing finger through to a complete shoulder-disarticulated arm.

The i-LIMB Hand is a true next generation bionic product - it has 5 individually powered digits which provide the end-user with completely new grip options to enhance dexterity and the activities of daily living. The i-LIMB Hand is a terminal device that actually looks and acts like a real human hand - a goal that has never been a commercial reality, until now.

"Using the latest materials and design techniques results in a prosthetic device that is lifelike, robust and highly appealing to patients and end-users." said Stuart Mead, the CEO of Touch Bionics. "We have been partnering with DuPont to utilise their very latest materials to create a product that responds to needs of the healthcare professional. We designed the i-LIMB Hand to be modular in its construction and very easy to fit and service." Added Mead

Ernst Poppe, European healthcare marketing manager at DuPont Engineering Polymers, said "We have been very impressed by Touch Bionics' engineering work and their capability to integrate drives and sensors. As space was limited for the mechanical structure, we needed a very strong and rigid grade of DuPont™ Zytel® HTN, which actually has a similar E-modulus to a human bone. Further key requirements, such as an extreme impact resistance and an appealing surface finish could also be met with this material."

Using a traditional myoelectric two-signal input sourced from analogue electrodes (sensors placed closed to the skin to collect muscle-generated signals), the i-LIMB Hand's 5 powered motors operate using Touch Bionics' unique control system. This approach to control is very familiar to myoelectric users and has the benefit of allowing patients to quickly start implementing proportional control (slower/faster) and 'power grip' pulsing to increase a firmer grip of objects.

Again using a traditional 2 myoelectric signal input, Touch Bionics' enhanced control system will shortly offer patients and end-users the opportunity to run sub-routines and functions specific to activities of daily living such as pointing the index finger only (to operate a PC or telephone) or bringing together only the thumb and index finger (to pick-up small/delicate objects).

Unlike a traditional 3-jaw-chuck or similar terminal device, the i-LIMB Hand's 5 individually powered digits grip around objects and then lock when sufficient grip force has been applied - just like a real hand. The excessive tip-force grip of more traditional devices is no longer required to maintain sufficient grip on heavier or more difficult-shaped objects. The addition of the i-LIMB Hand's cosmesis provides extra grip capability. The new production techniques developed in-house by Touch Bionics has resulted in a cosmesis that is highly realistic in terms of skin tone, skin surface and overall accuracy to a real hand.

"Our unique combination of mechanics, controls and cosmesis re-writes the rulebook on prosthetic grip force and device functionality." Commented Touch Bionics' Phil Newman. "Feedback from trial patients has been extremely positive and whilst we have concentrated on the obvious details of the technology our patients have simply been delighted by the fact that the i-LIMB Hand moves anatomically like a real hand." Added Newman.

On Touch Bionics' stand at Rehacare(Hall 6, Stand C78/1) the company will be demonstrating the i-LIMB Hand's enhanced functionality, the cosmetic glove system that it has specifically developed and the new control system that drives the devices 5 individually powered fingers. Additionally Touch Bionics will showcase some of its future developments for partial hand patients and the futuristic hand designs that it plans to roll-out next year.