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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 06:04 GMT 07:04 UK
Milestone for unique bionic hand
Bionic hand doing intricate work. Pic by Touch Bionics
The hand is controlled by the user's mind and muscles
A highly functional bionic hand which was invented by a Scottish NHS worker has gone on the market.

The thumb and fingers can move and grip just like a human hand and are controlled by the patient's mind and muscles.

It was invented by David Gow and was designed and built by Touch Bionics, which is based in Livingston.

The technology has been tested by a number of people, including US soldiers who lost limbs in the Iraq war.

Mr Gow, who is the director of rehabilitation engineering services at NHS Lothian, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "It's the first hand to come to the market that's actually had bending fingers just like your own hand."

If you gave someone this hand for a month and then gave them back their old device, they would be very disappointed
Donald MacKillop
Bionic hand recipient

Donald MacKillop from Kilmarnock was one of the first people to be fitted with the bionic hand in 2006 and has been testing the new hand over the past few months.

The retired welder lost his right hand in an industrial accident almost 30 years ago.

Since then, he has tried a succession of artificial hands but none have come close to the latest version.

"The most important thing is the movement of the fingers, that's what really makes the difference," he said.

"The hand does feel like a replacement for my missing hand and it is now very natural for me to pick up all sorts of objects. It makes everyday activities much easier.

"If you gave someone this hand for a month and then gave them back their old device, they would be very disappointed."

Juan Arredondo using his bionic hand. Pic by Touch Bionics
The hand has been tested by amputees, including war veterans

Juan Arredondo, from Texas, who lost his hand in Iraq in 2004, has also been fitted with one of the hands.

"Every day I have the hand, it surprises me," he said.

"Now I can pick up a Styrofoam cup without crushing it. With my other hand, I would really have to concentrate on how much pressure I was putting on the cup."

Stuart Mead, chief executive at Touch Bionics, said: "We are delighted to be the company that moves bionic hand technology from the research and development phase into the real world, and to lead a generational advance in bionics and patient care.

"We have always existed to change the lives of patients with severe injuries and disabilities, and it is thrilling to feel that we are now able to accomplish that goal."

The hand was tested at the National Centre for Prosthetics at Strathclyde University.

Mr Gow, who works at a new state-of-the-art centre at the Astley Ainsley Hospital in Edinburgh, hopes the bionic hand could be available on the health service within two to five years.


David Gow demonstrates his invention

'Bionic' limb breakthrough made
03 Jul 06 |  Health

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