Bionic or electric elbows have been a staple of the bionic upper-limb industry for a lot longer than most people realize. Some have been around for at least 15 years.
As a credit to their original designers, the core engineering for these devices hasn’t changed much. Videos produced over a decade ago are still valid today.
Part of the reason for this is that bionic elbows are seldom the star of above-the-elbow solutions from an end-user perspective. That honor falls to bionic hands. But the choice of elbow can be just as important to user satisfaction because the elbow often acts as the command center for other components. That is, myoelectric sensors feed their signals to the command module of the elbow first, which then dispatches the necessary commands to the wrist or hand components.
Additionally, bionic elbows often house the batteries used to power not just the elbow but all the other components as well.
In other words, if you are trying to put together an above-the-elbow solution, you need to pay more attention to the elbow component than others might suggest. This is especially true with the recent release of Steeper’s Espire line of elbows, which represents the first major advancement in elbow design in some time, including the ability to support myoelectric recalibration.
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.
Steeper Espire Elbow
Steeper’s Espire Elbow comes in five different models. Two of these — the Espire Pro and Espire Hybrid — are compatible with bionic hands.
Ottobock’s ErgoArm comes in four different models. Two of these — the ErgoArm Hybrid Plus and ErgoArm Electronic Plus — are compatible with bionic hands.
Motion Control Utah Arm
Motion Control’s Utah Arm is a microprocessor-controlled electric elbow that is compatible with multiple input systems, wrist components, and bionic hands or other terminal devices.
College Park Boston Digital Arm
Note: the Boston Digital Arm has been discontinued, so we will no longer be updating this page going forward. Please refer to our various current options articles for alternatives.
For a list of all available components for above-the-elbow bionic solutions, please see Current Options for Above-the-Elbow Bionic Arms.
For a comprehensive description of all current upper-limb technologies, devices, and research, see our complete guide.