Oxford researchers develop breathing-powered prosthetic hand

A new prosthetic hand powered by breathing has been developed for children and teenagers.

The BBC News Oxford

Researchers at the University of Oxford say the new air-powered hand is “lightweight, low maintenance and easy to use”.

The device uses breathing to power a small purpose-built Tesla turbine and controls prosthetic finger movements.

The findings have been published in the Prosthesis journal.

Senior author Prof Jeroen Bergmann, from the department of engineering science, called it a “novel prosthetic option that can be used without limiting any of the user’s body movements”.

He said: “It is one of the first truly new design approaches for power and control of a body-powered prosthetic since the emergence of the cable-driven system over two centuries ago.”

Cable-driven body-powered prosthetics have been used since the early 19th Century, but can be expensive to maintain.

Researchers said “little progress” had been made in developing new types of body-powered devices, as opposed to those powered externally with batteries.

They said the new device was suitable for children and adolescents who were still growing, and requires minimal maintenance and training.

Jane Hewitt, a trustee of LimbBo, a UK-based charity for children with limb differences, said: “We welcome this research as a completely different approach to enabling our children to have the help that a prosthetic such as this would give them.

“The element of choice is important, and we would fully support any research and development plans that enable this.”

Mobility India, an NGO based in Bengaluru, India, has been carrying out user tests with the technology.

A spokesperson said: “The breathing-powered prosthetic has the potential to broaden prosthetic options for children and adolescents, especially in India and other developing countries that lack appropriate technology.”



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