I-Limb Lends Helping Hand
By Sunita Raghu | Published: 10th August 2014 06:00 AM |
At first glance, it might appear as a prop from Cameron’s classic—The Terminator. However, in reality, the robotic hand has been a life saver for millions of people who have lost their upper limbs, either due to a birth defect or in an accident. The prosthetic hand is one of the successful creations among many others from the Scottish manufacturer—Touch Bionics. Named i-limb, the brand defines it as designed for those who want more from their prosthesis.
Says Neeraj Saxena, director of P & O International, distributor for Touch Bionics’ products in India, “i-limb was launched in India in 2011. Today, there are many takers of i-limb, from the basic version to the recently introduced i-limb with grip chip.” So far, the company has fitted 25 people with i-limbs.
The recipient of one such prosthetic device is Malvika Iyer, who as a teenager lost her hands in a bomb blast. Shortly after her rehabilitation process started, she was fitted with a bio-electronic hand called auto box, which worked on batteries with “basic open and close movements”. Constantly googling to see if there were better models, she came upon Touch Bionics. She says, “I began using i-limb in 2009 and was told that I was the first person in India to avail this product. It was different from the earlier prosthesis as the fingers were flexible and it worked with the help of a sensor. With constant practice, I picked up most of the functions to the extent that I was even able to coach other patients on its uses.” Malvika is now a successful motivational speaker. She is also pursing a Phd from the Madras School of Social Work, and waiting to replace the basic version of i-limb with the bluetooth equipped one. An accident at work in 2009 cost Gyan Singh all his five fingers (of the left hand). Three years back, he was fitted with an i-limb, which cost him `8, 15,000. He is grateful to the device as it helps him perform a good chunk of the tasks. Singh, a father of two, is happy that he can carry on earning a living, though he rues that post the accident, his income has dwindled drastically. The device, though slightly heavy, is good to lift things worth 8 kg, he adds.
Vikas Gupta of Medanta—The Medi City associate director and head of department for hand surgery, says that i-limb comes with multiple motors and it can be programmed to perform a particular function, making it far superior compared to other prosthetic products in the market. Of course, it is costly (20 pc more compared to Chinese and Korean products) and heavy too, but then it is better to start with a low end product. According to Saxena, Touch Bionics has a complete line-up of hand prosthesis. Talking about i-limb’s popularity he says, “The prosthetic covering of i-limb looks lifelike; thanks to Touch Bionics acquiring the US company Livingskin in 2008.” So, what all can one do with i-limb? “From cutting vegetables to tying shoelaces to retrieving money from the ATM, all sorts of activities are possible,” he clarifies.
Recently, the company came out with a small device called the Grip Chip. “The device, which has sensors can be placed at a distance of just 10 to 14 inches from the table, so when you want to have a glass of water, the fingers will open accordingly to grip the object,” he informs. Saxena mentions that a medical team, including therapists is at the go, whenever a patient comes to be fitted with a prosthetic hand. At `7 lakh for the basic version, i-limb is steeply priced, but then, replicating nature is never easy or cheap.
■ i-limb ultra
■ i-limb ultra revolution.
■ i-limb digits
■ Supporting technologies: biosim, my-i-limb and virtu-limb.Rs 7lakh-Rs 25 lakh Price Range