Man chooses "elective amputation" for bionic hand, after motorcycle accident

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34 Responses to “Man chooses "elective amputation" for bionic hand, after motorcycle accident”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Certainly not the first to do so. British pilots in WWII did the same with ankles which were fused after accidents or crashes. Apparently they were able to retain flight status with a prosthetic – while a fused but biological ankle would have failed their flight physicals.

  2. Anonymous says:

    …and thus it began (innocently enough) “the merging”, (some later termed it “the extension”), of humanity with the mechanical. following “elective” extensions for even the minor disability came the argument that normal ability amounted to a disability in the face of what the extensions, now “augments” could provide. Although it was generally assumed that it would start in Japan, it was the abundant governmental funding of health care in Sweden that tipped the balance for so-called “full augmentation”; that and the acceptance by the Olympic committee on an augment Olympic division. No one is sure where the first elective cortex appliance (Corapp) was made, but it was said that the young Ukrainian thought it would be facilitate his gambling habit. Little did he suspect…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cool Hand Luke… Skywalker!

    • redsquares says:

      In about 40 years he’ll be complaining that the new nanotech augmentations are making him look like some mechanical monstrosity…

      Wonder what mercenaries are gonna look like in 20 years…?!

  4. quickbrownfox says:

    Cue Star Wars comments in 5…4…3…

  5. sarahmayscott says:

    absolutely amazing and hope for so many. at UPMC, they have started actual limb transplants, some of which will be quad-amputees in the near future.

  6. RuthlessRuben says:

    The thing with this “exoskeleton glove” idea. Stem cell research is very promising, but beyond that, its not really anything yet. I really believe that one day this man could be cured by stemcells, but the important question is WHEN. And we can’t say when yet, there might be a breakthrough next month, next year, next decade, we don’t know for sure.

    Meanwhile, this guy is living with one hand. And he wants a new one. Bad. I think having a hand you can’t use is something that cannot be readily experienced unless you do something like break all of your fingers simultaneously or take part in some perspective-creating experiment. I can’t imagine it. Take a second and think of 5 things you do every day that require both hands. Then 10. Then 20. It should be easy.

    Now imagine you ARE this guy. You broke your shoulder, and your hand is dead. You already had two or three surgeries which amounted to nothing, and suddenly somebody gives you a choice: Get rid of your dead hand and have a brand-new artificial one NOW or get a clunky glove that makes you look like Hellboy loaned you his arm and maybe have a treatment that will enable your old hand to do pretty much the same as the prostetic in a couple of years. Or more. Maybe.

    Thankfully this is not a choice I have to make now, and I think it isn’t easy to have part of you cut off and discarded. But then again having to do everything with one hand while your other decided to go on a permanent neural holiday is not easy either.

    Also, as suggested, a bionic exoskeleton is, as far as I know, more expensive than the entire prostetic hand. Also, it’s essentially the same thing but less practical. It takes up room, it has dozens of acutators, and needs much more power because it constantly has to work against a limb that is essentially dead and thus usually instinctively rigid. The results are abrasions, luxations, bruises and other things you wont notice because your hand is not feeling anything, thus possibly leading to unnoticed infection. Also, such a prostetic glove is much more delicate than an enclosed prostetic, so it wears out much, much quicker, and costs much, much more.

    A hand you can’t afford, isn’t a hand, a treatment that doesn’t exist yet, is not really a treatment. So in the end, I think we should leave it up to the individual whether or not he wants to do such a thing.

    Oh, and: Please let go of that “Oh my, the technological singularity will consume us all!” shtick, it’s been done since cyberpunk died.

    • Jesse M. says:

      Also, as suggested, a bionic exoskeleton is, as far as I know, more expensive than the entire prostetic hand. Also, it’s essentially the same thing but less practical. It takes up room, it has dozens of acutators, and needs much more power because it constantly has to work against a limb that is essentially dead and thus usually instinctively rigid. The results are abrasions, luxations, bruises and other things you wont notice because your hand is not feeling anything, thus possibly leading to unnoticed infection. Also, such a prostetic glove is much more delicate than an enclosed prostetic, so it wears out much, much quicker, and costs much, much more.

      Do you mean to say that the “prosthetic glove” has actually been designed and built? I was just suggesting it as something one could imagine designing in cases like this where the hand is still present but totally paralyzed. As a hypothetical idea it’s not obvious why it would require more actuators for example, but if you’re saying it’s already been done I’ll take your word for it that it does have the practical issues you mention.

      What about just having a robotic hand attached to some rods attached to the arm, so the bionic hand is out past the regular hand (which could be concealed in a sleeve)? Aesthetically it might be a bit odd-looking but couldn’t this be just as functional as a robotic hand attached to the stump of an amputated hand? Is the issue just that it’s easier to detect never signals from a stump than from a paralyzed hand?

  7. Anonymous says:

    i’m only human… but i’m changing that!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Big mistake.

    He could have had an “exoskeleton” to do the same all the while waiting for a cure to his problem (stem cells ?)

  9. roboton says:

    I haven’t read the article, but how do they deal with rejection?

    • AirPillo says:

      Prosthetics are usually worn over a “stump” that is fully covered with healed skin, so there’s no contact between the prosthetic and the immune cells that would cause rejection. Sensors placed on the skin are able to read nerve impulses without having to actually make contact with the nerves. As far as permanent medical devices go, prosthetics are usually very non-invasive things.

  10. Kimmo says:

    I’m slightly disappointed at how primitive these still are…

    I guess mechanical engineering is going to progress fairly slowly until nanotech has matured enough to have much of a bearing on it.

  11. William George says:

    This guy will have his choice of women. Or men if he swings that way…

    What I’m saying is: Bad-ass!

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Wikipedia at its finest.

      Electrocution is also frequently used to refer to any electric shock received but is technically incorrect.

      …immediately followed by…

      This choice in definition varies from dictionary to dictionary.

  12. Alan says:

    I can’t believe I’m actually a little jealous. I mean, I like my hands, and he won’t be able to touch anything and feel it, but still – that’s just cool as shit!

  13. Anonymous says:

    cyberpunk didn’t die, it just started to boil.

  14. Jesse M. says:

    Seems like it would have made more sense to just modify the bionic hand into something like a bionic exoskeleton for his real hand that would pick up signals from the nerves in the same way, but instead of moving robotic fingers it would just move around his real fingers. Guess it would just cost too much to custom-build something like that?

  15. Anonymous says:

    The article starts “…lost the use of his right hand in a motorcycle accident …”, then finishes with “…after being electrocuted at work.” Which is it?

    Also, electrocution literally means DEATH by electric shock – electrical execution. I know that “He lost the use of his hand after an accidental shock at work.” doesn’t sound as dramatic as “ZOMG! He was freaking ELECTROCUTED!!11!!”, but it’s not correct. He’s still alive. Just sayin.

    • Anonymous says:

      The article is referring to two different people. A 26-year-old who is now getting a bionic hand, and a 24-year-old who was the FIRST to get such a hand. Two different people, two different accidents.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I like how “Otto Bock” sounds VERY SIMILAR to “Autobot”.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The article seems to imply that that this Professor Oskar Aszmann is the chap who performs the entire procedure. In fact, the surgeons are responsible for amputating the limb only. The patient is later transferred to a specialist Prosthetist to have the prosthesis fitted, trained up on it’s use, and supported by them for the rest of his life.

    I love how this Professor likes to take the limelight for all the work; and the Prosthetist who *ARE* actually responsible for fitting and helping the chap, get no mention!

    And how do I know all this? My wife works for Otto Bock as a Prosthetist :)

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well the problem is that a replacement isn’t really going to be much better than a non-working hand. The human hand is amazing. It’s not like the replacement won’t do much to help him type, or tie his shoe, or very many of the myriad of other things that we use our hands for on a daily basis. There’s a good reason why most of the voluntary amputations that you hear about are for feet, not hands.

  19. narddogz says:

    I love the Powerglove… it’s so BAD.

    Seriously though, that is truly wonderful, and unlike the Powerglove, useful.

    But did they have to use the same color scheme as the Nintendo model?

  20. Trent Hawkins says:

    Did he get the optional Chainsaw attachment?

  21. dculberson says:

    The problem with the “exoskeleton” idea is (a) it doesn’t exist (b) is much more technologically difficult, and (c) could damaging your dead biological hand, leading to infections – which end up severe when you can’t tell it’s hurt. (compare to Leprosy where nerve death causes the sufferer to not notice injuries which then become infected and cause major issues)

  22. tsdguy says:

    I’m happy for the guy – the hand probably cost a bunch and I’m sure he’s getting consideration for testing and such. But I wasn’t very impressed frankly. It seems no different than a standard myoelectric hand that responds to a terminal nerve to pinch shut and open. Perhaps a bit more cosmetic with discrete fingers.

    It’s in no way bionic – it’s not even attached to his arm – it just appears to slip over his stump like any other prosthetic arm.

    In my opinion, for something to be bionic, it has to be surgically implanted and made a permanent part of a human – think Luke’s arm.

    Now the test arm shown at the end of the video is much closer with more degrees of movement but it looked very complicated with a gear right in the middle of the palm?

  23. wphurley says:

    “Bionic” hand aspect is interesting, but is not nearly as intriguing as the elective amputation aspect of this story.

    As the article reports, elective amputation is so rare it’s essentially a long-tail event on a distribution of long-tails. A friend I have known since he was 9 had his leg amputated just below the knee in ~1990. He suffered massive trauma to both of his legs in a construction accident in which he fell from a 6 story roof, landing first on his right foot and ankle on a concrete patio. After 2+ years, several bouts of gangrene, skin and bone transplants and other remedies in over 25 surgeries he and his wife initiated discussions with his doctors about removing his leg.

    He made his decision without the lure of “bionics” on his near-term or beyond the horizon radar.

    In a testament to the stoutness, he was fitted with what was then novel technology in the form of a carbon-graphite (if memory serves me correctly) prosthetic after about a year of using a “traditional” false leg. Having always been fit and an avid outdoorsman, it wasn’t long before he was back to hunting with bow & arrow in rural MA/NH – leading him to snap or otherwise break the “beta” versions of new advanced prosthetics he was trialing. The event that merits mention above all of this is this. With 4-5 years of experience using his high-tech prosthesis, he was alone hunting in the deep woods of Maine. Apparently, he landed a large male dear of (reportedly) over 500lbs. In the adrenalized race to keep site of the fatally wounded prey, he again snapped his leg in the thick woods of nowhere Maine. Still, he managed to track the dear to the point were it dropped, by hopping. He then secured the carcass and dragged it – hopping – while carrying his gear, bow & arrows, and broken graphite leg 6 miles to his truck where then dressed the animal and drove home. Fortunately, he had a spare prosthesis in his truck.

    The facts of his story were confirmed by several hunting (and drinking) buddies of his who he took to the sites of the action to see for themselves the the blood trails, the bent and broken ground cover he had ran over or dragged through and the remains of the dressed animal he had brought home a day earlier.

    His story is not quite Arron Ralston-esque, but its pretty damned unforgettable.

    As for the gentleman soon to be fitted with a new, replacement hand. I hope he is done well by his medical team – before, during and through the unknown unknowns of the days and years of learning to live with new body parts that can and will be upgraded for reasons even he and his doctors can’t yet imagine.

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