Fillauer’s MC ProPlus Hand improves on its corporate cousin, the MC Hand, to add enhanced control capabilities and two innovative new features.
What’s On This Page?
- A Quick Look at the MC ProPlus Hand
- Grip Patterns & Control System
- Proportional Speed Control
- Sensory Feedback
- Wrist Design
- Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
- Water and Dust Resistance
- Glove Options
- User Software
- Suitability for Above-the-Elbow Solutions
- User Feedback Survey & Results
- Considerations Before Buying an MC ProPlus Hand
- Related Information
A Quick Look at the MC ProPlus Hand
Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to find video footage featuring the Fillauer MC Hand or MC ProPlus Hand. The best we could do is this 12-year old clip that is actually an advertisement for the Utah Arm — it just happens to show the MC Hand in action.
We have to be honest with you. When a company shows such little interest in producing modern marketing materials for a product, we have to question its commitment to that product.
This has made us step back to ask a few broader questions. First, what is an MC ProPlus Hand?
Despite how it appears with its glove on, the MC ProPlus Hand is a three-pronged Electric Terminal Device (ETD), not a multi-articulating bionic hand. Underneath the glove, it looks like this:
Here is a picture with the glove completely stripped away:
The three “fingers” do not move independently of each other — they all open and close in unison.
What is the purpose of this device?
From our standpoint, the MC ProPlus Hand fills a niche. Multi-articulating hands — what most people think of as a modern bionic hand — would be the ideal solution if they could perform every task desired by end-users. But the current versions of these hands fall far short of this goal.
One area of deficiency is speed. Most multi-articulating bionic hands can be a bit slow to respond to user commands (the Michelangelo and the Psyonic Ability Hand are two exceptions to this). With its simpler design, the ProPlus Hand opens and closes quickly, which makes it more efficient and intuitive to use.
Another problem with multi-articulating hands is durability. Although they have been improved in recent years, they still break too frequently. This is why there’s still a market for rugged electric grippers and hooks. But those devices cannot be made to look like a natural hand. The MC ProPlus Hand can be made to look that way while still offering improved durability.
Multi-articulating bionic hands are more complex. For example, they offer multiple grip patterns, i.e. different combinations of fingers and the thumb close depending on the selected grip. This often requires users to switch to the appropriate grip before attempting a task. The ProPlus Hand is simpler. Its only grip pattern is to open and close all three digits in unison. This means that it cannot perform certain tasks very well, such as typing on a keyboard or operating a mouse. But it can quickly grasp most objects, which is by far the most common task for bionic hands.
So, summarizing this, if you want a device that can look like a hand, can securely grasp objects, and is simpler, faster, and more durable than a multi-articulating hand (but less capable for certain tasks), that’s why the MC ProPlus Hand exists.
If these statements remain valid, why isn’t Fillauer more actively marketing the MC ProPlus Hand? Part of the explanation is that Fillauer has never been very good at marketing its ETD products to the general public. They focus more on marketing to clinicians.
The other part of the explanation may be that Fillauer became the sole distributor of the TASKA Hand for the entire U.S. in December 2017. The TASKA was specifically designed to be more robust than other multi-articulating hands (though our early User Satisfaction Survey data doesn’t fully support this claim), as well as waterproof and dustproof. Could it be that the TASKA has somewhat displaced the MC ProPlus Hand in Fillauer’s product offering?
For those of you who read our articles, you know how unusual it is for us to discuss these issues, especially at the beginning of a device article. But our loyalty is 100 % with end-users, so we would be remiss if we did not raise this red flag right away. The first question any prospective patient should ask their prosthetist about this device is whether Fillauer remains committed to it.
For our part, we are going to try to get Fillauer to answer this same question. If they reply, we’ll update this section.
MC ProPlus Hand Features
Grip Patterns & Control System
As mentioned, the MC ProPlus Hand has only one grip pattern — to open and close its three “fingers”. But it has several settings that can significantly impact its performance, including:
- the source of control input, i.e. myoelectric versus non-myoelectric (e.g. switch, touchpad, etc.);
- the number of signal channels being used to control the device (single vs dual);
- the methodology used to differentiate between signals;
- signal noise filtering;
- the sensitivity of the device in response to signal strength.
For an in-depth description of these settings, please see the User Software section.
In addition to basic settings, the ProPlus Hand also offers an optional feature set called FLAG (Force Limiting, Auto Grasp). This includes:
- a force-limiting feature to prevent crushing objects due to excessive grip force;
- an auto-grasp feature that automatically increases its grip on an object if the device detects an inadvertent open signal.
Both of these features are described in their own sections below.
Proportional Speed Control
The MC ProPlus Hand supports full proportional speed control.
This feature works by:
- Reducing the maximum closing speed to a user-defined %. Proportional speed control is still in effect; it is just the maximum speed that is limited.
- When the MC ProPlus Hand’s fingers encounter an object, the amount of force applied to that object will be limited to 9 Newtons. The device notifies the user that this has occurred by producing a short vibration. The user can then incrementally increase the force by repeating the close signal. This can be done to a default maximum of 10 times or 80 Newtons of force, though this maximum setting can be adjusted by the user.
In other words, this feature addresses the default behavior where it is easy to snap the fingers shut too quickly and with too much force, replacing it with a more controlled process.
The Auto-Grasp feature for the MC ProPlus Hand is not the same as the auto-grasp feature offered by some other bionic devices, where a sensor in one of the “fingertips” detects when an object is slipping and causes the device to automatically increase its grip force. Instead, the ProPlus Hand detects a quick, inadvertent open signal and responds with a single increment of the grip force to prevent the accidental drop of an object. Put another way, this feature merely compensates for an accidental open signal as compared to providing a true auto-grasp feature.
The MC ProPlus Hand does not provide any sensory feedback to the end-user other than the short vibration generated as part of the Force-Limiting feature.
The MC ProPlus Hand offers multiple wrist options, including:
- a laminate ring for wrist disarticulation;
- a short-hand version with an industry-standard quick-disconnect wrist;
- a standard-length version with an industry-standard quick-disconnect wrist;
- a flexion wrist with flexion/extension and four locking positions at 52, 26, 0, and -30 degrees;
- a multi-flex wrist that flexes in all directions with locking positions at 30, 0, and -30 degrees of flexion/extension;
- an in-hand wrist rotator; and
- a powered flexion wrist with 153 degrees of powered flexion and two passive resistance settings;
The following video provides a good explanation of the value of some of these options:
Lift Capacity & Grip Strength
The MC ProPlus Hand can lift up to 22 kilograms in all directions.
It has a grip strength of 100 Newtons, which is identical to that of Ottobock’s SensorHand Speed and VariPlus Speed devices, and should be more than adequate for most daily tasks.
Having said that, grip force tends to be measured in different ways by different companies, so comparisons between the grip strengths of competing devices may not be reliable.
We rely mostly on the results of our User Satisfaction Survey for an objective assessment of a bionic device’s durability. Because this article and the associated survey are relatively new, it will likely be a few months before we have sufficient participants to publish results.
That having been said, it appears to us that the MC ProPlus Hand has been designed with ruggedness in mind. Certainly, having fewer “fingers”, motors, and moving parts should reduce the risk of breakage compared to most multi-articulating bionic hands.
Water and Dust Resistance
The MC ProPlus Hand is not waterproof or dustproof. It should only be used with an intact cosmetic glove and an intact Inner Hand Shell.
The MC ProPlus Hand requires two gloves:
- an Inner Hand Shell that is installed at the factory and should only be removed/replaced by a trained technician;
- an outer cosmetic glove.
Fillauer’s documentation states that the hand is compatible with most high-quality prosthetic hand gloves.
There is no mention of batteries in any of Fillauer’s documentation for the MC ProPlus Hand. We suspect that this is because the prosthetist is expected to integrate a battery into the socket to power the device. Alternatively, where an electric elbow is used, the battery power is typically supplied by the elbow unit.
All Fillauer ETD devices other than the MC Standard ETD and the MC Hand enjoy one of the most comprehensive software applications that we’ve seen for a bionic device’s setup and configuration. The application is used by both prosthetists and end-users — it just disables some of the more advanced functions for end-users. In fact, it is so comprehensive that we’re going to defer the description of it to this lengthy video (31 minutes):
Suitability for Above-the-Elbow Solutions
The MC ProPlus Hand can participate in above-the-elbow bionic solutions involving components from many different manufacturers.
We do not currently have good pricing information on the MC ProPlus Hand. If you have this information, please share it with us through our contact form.
For a complete list of prices for upper-limb ETDs, please see our ETD price list.
The MC ProPlus Hand offers a 1-year standard warranty against defects in materials or workmanship under normal use.
Note that this is lower than the 2-year warranty offered by Ottobock for its ETD devices.
User Feedback Survey & Results
Are you currently using an MC ProPlus Hand or have you used it in the past?
If so, why not help others by sharing your experiences in this quick survey:
We do not yet have a sufficient number of survey participants to publish fair and accurate results for the MC ProPlus Hand.
As soon as we do, we’ll update this section.
Considerations Before Buying an MC ProPlus Hand
As mentioned earlier, the biggest single question that we feel needs to be answered about the MC ProPlus Hand is whether Fillauer remains committed to it.
The next question is how it stacks up against its ETD competitors, which includes Ottobock’s SensorHand Speed and VariPlus Speed devices.
Beyond these considerations, we are reserving judgment on the MC ProPlus Hand until we hear back from end-users through our User Satisfaction Survey.
For a list of competitor devices, see all upper-limb ETDs.
For a comprehensive description of all current upper-limb technologies, devices, and research, see our complete guide.
Click here for more information on Fillauer’s Upper-Limb Myoelectric Devices.