EDUCATION AND TRAINING

South African researchers interpret a discovery to give amputees bionic hands

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Currently, a prosthetic hand costs around R500 000 which is too pricey for most South Africans. Wits University postgraduates have engineered a bionic hand that can interpret brainwaves from amputees. The Biomedical Engineers conducted research regarding how brainwaves can be used to control a robotic prosthetic hand. The Engineers will use 3D-printing to create a prosthetic hand for R20 000, thereby increasing access to South African amputees.

Abdul-Khaallq Mohamed, Lecturer and Ph.D. candidate in the School of Electrical and Information Engineering at Wits, co-ordinates a research group of six students studying different aspects of potentially controlling a robotic hand. According to Mohamed “In South Africa, stroke victims may benefit significantly from this technology. I envisage a BCI capable of controlling a robotic prosthetic hand that will enable people with motor disabilities to write, hold a glass or shake hands”. Moreover, the research group focuses on a combination of hand movements including wrist extension, wrist flexion, finger flexion, finger extension and the tripod pinch.

Amanda Mkhize

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