Luke Skywalker’s Hand
This is Luke Skywalker’s arm at the end of
The Empire Strikes Back. In 1980, the Star Wars community called them cybernetic limb replacements. While Luke’s hand is not real, it’s fully functioning fingers and lightsaber-fighting capabilities foreshadowed more advanced prosthetic limbs. Here are some of today’s coolest prosthetics. Some are still in prototype, while others are currently being used by amputees.
The Neptune prosthetic fin prototype is a swimmer’s dream, providing adjustable 360-degree movement to the user. The fin is designed to easily attach to above- and below-the-knee amputations. Despite some
encouraging test results, Neptune’s designer, Richard Stark, has no plans for commercial production.
Photo courtesy of
A New Idea
Pistorius’ Cheetah Flex Foot Blades
With a silver medal in the 4x400-meter relay from the 2011 Track and Field World Championships in Daegu and four Paralympic gold medals, Oscar Pistorius is the fastest man with no legs. Wearing
Cheetah fiber blades especially made for athletics, Pistorius hopes to qualify for the 400-meter dash in the 2012 Olympics. (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
While technically not a prosthetic, the ReWalk, which gives paraplegics new legs, is too cool to leave out. Motorized components are powered by a rechargeable battery in the computerized backpack. Users control movement through a remote-control wristband and their crutches, which help to stabilize movement. ReWalk made its TV debut last year on
and has Glee FDA approval, but is not commercially available in the United States. In May Claire Lomas, who is paralzyed, completed the London Marathon in 16 days wearing the ReWalk.
i-LIMB is the first prosthetic hand currently in use that can replicate functions of a normal hand. Sensors on the skin receive myoelectric signals (impulses from the muscles) that move fingers independently and give the thumb full range of motion.
Double amputee Nadya Vessey turned to the company that did special effects for the film
The Lord of the Rings to make her a one-of-a-kind mermaid tail. Nadya, an active swimmer, uses her prosthetic tail to swim in pools and open water in Auckland, New Zealand.
This robotic ankle gives users a spring in their step when climbing stairs or walking up hills by replicating muscle movement in the leg. The ankle also reduces fatigue and provides a more normal gait to wearers.
Created by MIT professor Hugh Herr, who went on to found the prosthetic company iWalk, the bionic ankle is available for amputees in need.
Finger with USB drive
Technology is literally at your fingertips with this gel finger prosthetic that contains a hidden USB drive under the fingernail. The Finger is a
one-of-a-kind prosthetic created by Finnish programmer Jerry Javala, who lost his left ring finger in a motorcycle accident. (Photo: Jerry.Javala/Creative Commons)
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Lawrence Karol is a freelance writer and editor who lives in New York City in a mid-century-modern-inspired apartment with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet editor, who enjoys writing about design, food, and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence
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