An Artificial Robotic Hand Helps Improve Performance In Different Tasks

Some kids are born with Poland Syndrome meaning that the affected hand cannot function normally. The kids with this condition cannot perform various tasks like playing their favorite game. On the other hand, amputees also suffer the same fate following the removal of the hand due to different conditions.

However, there is a ray of hope since such people can harness the affordable 3-D technology to overcome their challenges. The inspiring story of Hailey Dawson’s robotic hand shows that people with artificial hands can also perform various activities like any average person.

Hailey Dawson was born with Poland Syndrome, a rare condition that affected her hand such that it could not function normally. Touched by her situation, the students at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ (UNLV) College of Engineering faculty came to her rescue. They designed a 3-D printed robotic hand that helps Hailey to perform an increased number of functions.

The robot hand has enabled Hailey to grasp, grab, and even throw! She threw the first pitch at all the Major League Baseball games. The robot hand has a unique design that allows it to perform various tasks just like an average hand. Disability, in this case, does not mean the inability to perform other challenging activities.

In a bid to raise awareness among other children with similar conditions, Hailey continues to defy the odds. She throws the ceremonial first pitch at every Major League Baseball park. At the game 4 of the World Series in 2017 between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers, she threw the first pitch.

Source: Las Vegas Now

The Design of The Robotic Hand

The UNLV team says they design the artificial hand using a 3D printer. The design also includes a lot of prototypes and fittings. Hailey Dawson got her hand when she was four years. The doctors and researchers have since then designed and created multiple robot hands for this young girl.

UNLV’s researchers use Stratasys Fortus 250MC 3-D printer in making the robotic hand like Dawson’s. The machine has an excellent resolution that enhances precision in different parts of the artificial arm. The team also selected acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) for designing the robotic hand because plastic is ideal for all-weather use.

The other notable thing is that the UNLV faculty stays in close connection with Hailey Dawson. The doctors and researchers continuously build her a new version of 3-D printed hand to keep pace with her growth. Physical growth brings a lot of changes to the body hence the need to design a compatible robot hand.

The UNLV also plays a leading role in raising awareness among other children with similar problems. The aim is to give insight to the people that Poland Syndrome does not spell the end of a career. Hailey Dawson has become a social media sensation and darling to many through her wonderful gift of 3-D printed hand.

Many people with this rare condition or amputees can significantly benefit from using 3-D printed hands. These artificial hands have unique designs that suit the needs of each such that they can perform at their best.

There are also other different types of prosthetic robot arms, and they save a similar human augmentation purpose. Various video games inspire these robot arms, and they come in different designs. The designs are open source meaning that anyone can 3-D print one.

Square Enix Video Company together with Eidos-Montreal together with Open Bionics Company which manufactures cheap prosthetics also offer amputees robot hands. The group provides mainly two Deus Ex-inspired artificial arm designs called Adam Jensen Arm and Deus Ex Universe Arm.

Source: Deus Ex

Deus Ex-Inspired Prosthetic Arms

These prosthetic arms have links of inspiration from the video game hero of Mankind Divided, and the Deus Ex Universe Arm. The Adam Jensen has a distinctive design, and it functions fully with flexible fingers. Its wrist also rotates meaning that the user can perform extra activities a normal hand cannot do.

The Deus Universe robot hand looks a bit odd, and it has fingers that are sharper. It also has a rotating wrist, and the fingers are capable of holding different items. The robot arm is adjustable to suit the needs of the user.

The amputees now have an opportunity to renew their outlook regarding the condition through the use of video game inspired prosthetic arms. The robotic arms significantly help uplift the performance of amputees in different activities like sporting. The artificial limbs can also help the users to perform other household chores.

The concept of human augmentation is significantly improving, thanks to advances in technology. The kind of new technology comes against the background of controversies surrounding the issue of artificial intelligence.

There is a debate about whether human augmentation is safe or it poses a threat to humanity. To amputees and other victims with rare conditions, they can find consolation from the use of artificial hands. Given such a scenario, it is imperative for the designers of these items to make sure that they are fit for human purpose.

Source: TechRadar

Benefits Of 3-D Technology

3-D hand gives the user a new look since it has a unique design that suits the affected hand. The artificial hand also helps the user to perform various ideal for people with both arms. You can also use the hand to dress without assistance from another person.

The other advantage of 3-D hand is that it is affordable. The traditional prosthetic that performs similar functions to 3-D technology is costly. You need to fork out thousands of dollars to get an artificial hand. Many people depending on their financial background may not be able to afford the exceptional service.

As a result, many people choose to live with their condition if they cannot afford the traditional prosthetic that is often expensive. The UNLV is committed to improving the conditions of people born with rare defects like Hailey’s. The university relies on funding from different sources to uplift the welfare of the affected people.

The use of artificial hands like 3-D technology plays a pivotal role in building confidence among users. For example, the young Hailey Dawson is confident that she can do anything an average person with two hands does. She feels that she can play baseball like anyone else and this is good about confidence building.

Many people with disabilities often lack the confidence to stand up against non-disabled people. There is a misconception among different individuals that physical defects at birth are related to something bad. As such, human augmentation helps to create a strong bond between the victims and other members of the society.

Many people have come to appreciate the enormous potential of Hailey Dawson even though she uses an artificial hand. People with disabilities often encounter the challenge that some individuals do not readily appreciate them as a result of their condition.

The designers of artificial hands also get the opportunity closely interact with their patients. Such a relationship will help them to have a good feel of the needs of people with disabilities. This kind of profession is not all about money but doing something that will help others in need.

Drawbacks Of 3-D Printed Hand

The artificial hands have certain disadvantages though they help the users to perform various tasks previously not possible. The major shortcoming of a robotic hand is that it is not able to hold specific items firmly. For instance, Hailey Dawson cannot securely hold the handlebar of a bike.

The user of the 3-D printed hand faces threats of injuries since this artificial arm cannot hold firmly on something. When riding a bike, you need full support on the handlebar, but with an artificial hand, the support lacks balance. The balance on the bike may be, and this can cause falls.

The artificial hand also does not work perfectly well in situations that require physical power. You cannot use this type of hand to push a heavy load like a wheelbarrow. The other issue is that you cannot pull something heavy using a robotic hand. If you force it, you may strain the muscles around the hand, and this can cause discomfort.

Other traditional prosthetics cost as much as $20, 000 and this amount is too high to many people. People who cannot raise this amount of money live with their condition though they can get an alternative solution. Affordable prosthetics need to support and promotion from different stakeholders.

The other notable drawback of traditional prosthetics is that they are not feasible for a growing person. As the body grows, it undergoes different physical changes such as the development of muscles and bones. However, the traditional robotic hand remains the same, and it does not develop in any way.

When the artificial hand fails to keep pace with the growth of the body, it can become useless in the long run. It becomes incompatible with the functions of the other hand. Such a scenario makes it difficult for the robot hand to move in uniform with other parts of the body.         

What Next

Following the successful design of Hailey Dawson’s 3-D printed hand, the UNLV commits itself to engage in community research. Such kind of study aims to bring a wealth of knowledge about the necessary steps that can improve the area of human augmentation. Community research also helps to build commitment among different stakeholders to contribute to this noble cause.

The leaders of the research team also hope to get grants so that they can be able to carry their research further. The study of prosthetics aims to improve the welfare of people with different challenges instead of profit making.

The researchers also note that advancements in prosthetics largely depend on trial-and-error methods. Instead, intensive academic research is vital in this particular field that is slowly gaining prominence as a source of hope to amputees.

The researchers also hope that improving research will help them build on the expertise that already exists on the campus. The team also believes that it is necessary to partner with physical therapy, kinesiology, and occupational therapy. Such a significant move will help the hand feel more comfortable and natural.

Hailey’s hand will also provide a perfect opportunity for the students who want to perform projects in the area of prosthetics. She will also require replacements for the robot arm as she grows and this will help the researchers to modify the technology. Modification of the technique supports the researchers to come up with ideal designs for various individuals.

The team also anticipates that Hailey will be able to swing the bat with her artificial hand soon fully. They hope to achieve this by conducting continual research to improve the performance of the artificial hand.

The researchers also hope to make further improvements in the mechanization of the artificial hand. For instance, they want to make it possible for each finger to close and open independently. Such action will help the artificial hand to be more flexible such that it can perform additional tasks.

Human augmentation helps to improve the condition of people usually born with rare defects or amputees. The story of Hailey Dawson is inspirational, and it shows the extent to which robotic hands can uplift the life of the victim. Dawson is now a darling of many since she throws the ceremonial first pitch at every Major League Baseball game.

She does this using her artificial hand, and she is proud that she can do various tasks like any other normal human being. 3-D technology is also advantageous in that it is affordable for many people.

The artificial hands are adjustable, and they are also customized to suit the growth of the individual involved. Apart from these benefits, human augmentation can pose specific threats to individual well-being. The robot hand, for instance, does not have full balance such that it cannot sustain heavy tasks.

The user of the hand can be fooled to enjoy the fake support that can result in a fall that can lead to injury. The other issue is that artificial hands are not strong enough to perform tasks that require physical power.

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