Affordable Prosthetic Limb developed by a Team of UW Students

Affordable Prosthetic Limb developed by a Team of UW Students

The human body is a remarkable piece of biological machinery, and your limbs are no exception. For example, consider the delicate and complex tasks hands can perform, such as writing in calligraphy or playing the violin. At the same time, hands have the strength and durability required to grip heavy objects and withstand impacts. 

If you are missing an arm or leg, an artificial limb can sometimes replace it. The device, which is called prosthesis, can help you to perform daily activities such as walking, eating, or dressing. Some artificial limbs let you function nearly as well as before.

The main question to many disabled persons is the affordability of these artificial limbs. Now, there could be possibly cheaper version of artificial limb is being developed by a team of student at UW Bothell.

Image credit : KING

They're using desktop computers, a video game controller, and a 3D printer to reinvent the technology that allows amputees to gain some mobility. "Everything here was bought from Amazon," said Kiran Gurajala, a UW Bothell math and computer science major, who demonstrated the technology, Tuesday. "It's roughly under $500."

Their task - create a prosthesis that's much cheaper than what is on the market. "The robotic arms that are currently in use all cost between $30,000 to $60,000, sometimes even more than that," said Ivan Owen, a lab manager in the UW Bothell School of STEM, who has been guiding the students through their project.

A $200 electronic Bluetooth armband was just what they needed. It was designed to control video games or power point presentations, but by sending its signals through a cheap desktop computer, the students figured out they could manipulate a plastic hand, which they made using a 3D printer.

Video source: King5

"It can be programmed to any motion that you can consistently make," said Gurajala. "They haven't invented a new technology, but what they've succeeded in doing is recreating a technology that is usually very expensive," said Owen. It's still a work in progress, and the students hope others will help advance the technology even further, using a free online database.

A UK company has already taken interest in the students' work, Owen said. "The idea is that we would release these designs to anybody that could download them. And they'd be able to make it themselves," said Gurajala. (Source: King5)

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