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Logo for the Journal of Rehab R&D
Vol. 35 No. 4, October 1998
Pages 388-395

The design and development of a gloveless endoskeletal prosthetic hand

Rajiv Doshi, BS; Clement Yeh, BS; Maurice LeBlanc, CP, MSME

Rehabilitation Research and Development Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Healthcare System, Palo Alto, CA 94304; Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract — Current prosthetic hands, although functional, have the potential of being improved significantly. We report here the design and development of a novel prosthetic hand that is lighter in weight, less expensive, and more functional than current hands. The new prosthesis features an endoskeleton embedded in self-skinning foam that provides a realistic look and feel and obviates the need for a separate cosmetic glove. The voluntary-closing mechanism offers variable grip strength. Placement of joints at three locations (metacarpophalangeal and proximal and distal interphalangeal) within each of four fingers affords realistic finger movement. High-strength synthetic cable attached to the distal phalanx of each finger is used to effect flexion. A multiposition passive thumb provides both precision and power grips. The new prosthesis can securely grasp objects with various shapes and sizes. Compared to current hands, weight has been reduced by approximately 50%, and cable excursion required for full finger flexion by more than 50%. The new endoskeletal prosthesis requires approximately 12-24% less force input to grasp a variety of everyday objects, largely due to its adaptive grip. Production cost estimates reveal the new prosthesis to be significantly less expensive than current prosthetic hands.

Key words: endoskeleton, prosthetic hand, self-skinning foam, upper-limb amputation.

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