Unless you’re willing to pay the premium price of complete, modular bionic arms like the Atom Touch or the LUKE Arm (which are worth the extra money — we just wish more people could afford them!), those needing above-the-elbow bionic solutions will likely have to piece them together using multiple components. Except for an all-Ottobock solution, those components will likely come from different manufacturers.
Because compatibility between components can be an issue and suitability for each prospective end-user is always an issue, you will need a prosthetist to help you do this. But you should still do your own homework, as the choice of components can have a significant impact on your quality of life.
Below, we provide three separate lists of components:
complete, modular arms;
electric elbows, which also act as control platforms for all the other components; and
bionic hands that can interface with other components.
We are still working on our lists of bionic wrists and shoulder joint options.
Some will refer to the Atom Touch as the commercial version of the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) developed by John Hopkins University. But it is more than that, with notable enhancements in durability, artificial intelligence, and sensory feedback.
College Park’s Boston Digital Arm is an electric elbow that can also serve as a control platform for up to four additional upper-limb components. In other words, it can operate as the quarterback for above-the-elbow solutions.
Ottobock’s DynamicArm is an electric elbow with the ability to flex and extend via myoelectric control. Combined with a rotating wrist and a bionic hand or another terminal device, the DynamicArm can form an integral part of an above-the-elbow solution.
Ottobock’s Michelangelo Hand is one of the most robust and technologically advanced bionic hands on the market. At $60,000 to $70,000 US, it’s also one of the most expensive. The question is: is it worth it?
Rugged, waterproof, and capable of operating in dusty environments, the TASKA Hand is the first bionic hand specifically designed to handle activities such as mowing lawns, operating light chain saws or hedge trimmers, and washing the car.
Ottobock’s bebionic hand offers 14 grip patterns and a carrying capacity of 45 kgs, which places it in the upper third of bionic hands in these two categories. On the downside, there are rumblings about its durability.
The Zeus bionic limb is yet another solid contestant in the bionic arm/hand market. Strong and durable with a lift capacity of 35 kgs and one of the highest grip forces in the industry, it is also deft enough to support a wide variety of tasks.
Ossur’s i-Limb hand is one of the world’s most advanced bionic hands. Available in three models — Access, Ultra, and Quantum — the i-Limb offers the most comprehensive set of grips and grip control options currently on the market.
The Psyonic Ability Hand offers six degrees of freedom, sensory feedback, and fast response times. It is also strong and rugged with compliant, damage-resistant fingers and a lift capacity of 23 kg (50 lbs).
BrainRobotics is currently undergoing a transition from a single 8-channel bionic hand to two products: a 2-channel hand and an 8-channel hand. We will update this article when that transition is complete.