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Tuesday, 25 August, 1998, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
World's first 'bionic arm' for Scot
The culmination of years of research
A Scottish man is being fitted with the world's first fully mobile "bionic" arm.

The major advance in prosthetic limbs will come when Campbell Aird will be given the electronic arm developed by the Prosthetics Research and Development team at Edinburgh's Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital.

Campbell Aird
Mr Aird lost his arm because of cancer
The new limb allows Campbell Aird, a hotelier from Moffat, to carry out functions that he would normally find impossible.

It is powered by complex electronics which permit the wearer to control movement through micro switches and pressure points.

Dr David Gow, who has led the research project for 10 years, said: "It's bionic because it's restoring a biological function in terms of prosthetic upper limb and it's using electronics to control and power it.

"The arm is obviously not a match for the real arm but it has more functions than has been possible with electrical power previously."

Mr Aird had his real arm removed to stop a cancer spreading to the rest of his body.

Bionic arm
The arm contains advanced new motors
Shoulder movement

Whereas many prosthetic limbs currently have some limited use of wrist or elbow, the new limb, powered by motors and gearboxes, will give Mr Aird use of his shoulder for the first time since his amputation 16 years ago.

It requires high electrical power to operate as prosthetic limb at shoulder level, and it is only the development of advanced new motors in recent years that has allowed the researchers to make the step forward.

Campbell Aird is keen to see how the new arm will cope with the work he does around the hotel. Already, he has expressed some concern that the project has not received more backing in Britain.

The arm has a skin-like covering with wrinkles and fingerprints
"Funding is a bit tight. The thing that's very frustrating is that other countries are showing a bigger interest in it than Britain," the hotelier said.

The limb, which has four basic functions, will also have a degree of realism thanks to a skin-like covering with wrinkles and fingerprints.

The researchers said the limb would cost round 10,000 ($16,200) if produced commercially.

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