Man gets UK's first bionic limb
Published 24/01/2013 | 14:25
An engineer who lost his right hand in a jet ski accident has become the first person in the UK to be fitted with a revolutionary lifelike bionic limb.
The £47,000 Michelangelo hand is controlled by muscle signals from Christopher Taylor's brain, with the four fingers and thumb able to move independently of each other.
Using the device, Mr Taylor, a married father-of-three, is able to grip items - vital for his job as a self-employed lifting equipment engineer.
The 58-year-old from Ivybridge, Devon, who returned to work a fortnight after losing his hand in August 2009, has been testing the Michelangelo since December and had his final fitting this week. He said the hand, paid for by an insurance claim, is a vast improvement on previous prosthetics.
Mr Taylor, who is left-handed, said: "The fingers move in line like a natural hand and I particularly like the way I can very quickly change the type of grip needed for a variety of everyday tasks as easily as moving my remaining hand."
The hand was fitted by Dorset Orthopaedic director of clinical services David Hills, who said his team had been looking for a suitable patient since first seeing a prototype of the German device several years ago.
"He is a very determined gentleman," said Mr Hills. "Putting him together with this marvellous hand was perfect. It allows him to get back to normal activities at home, like helping out in the kitchen, ironing and making beds."
The Michelangelo - named after the Italian artist's painting of God and Adam touching hands - is made of soft and hard components, mirroring bones, joints, muscles and tendons. It has a silicone socket, attaching the hand to Mr Taylor's arm.
Mr Hills said: "Traditionally, upper limb sockets are made from rigid materials such as glass fibre. We have, however, developed 100% silicone sockets which are proving to be much more comfortable due to their flexibility, especially around bony areas such as the elbow."
Geoff Harding, prosthetics business manager at Ottobock Healthcare, which developed the hand, said: "This is a hugely exciting medical innovation and we're delighted that Christopher has found the Michelangelo so comfortable and easy to use. We hope that Christopher's story shows other amputees that real, effective solutions are available and look forward to watching his progress with Michelangelo."