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a versatile, powered prosthetic hand Scotland,

Four examples of the prosthetic hand.
Different examples of the capabilities of the i-LIMB prosthetic hand. Courtesy of TouchBionics

The Princess Margaret Rose Hospital in Edinburgh had been developing prosthetics for children affected by thalidomide since the 1960s. David Gow (born 1957) joined the hospital in 1986 and began his research on electronic arms, including shoulders, wrists and hands. In 1993, Gow developed a partial hand and in 1998 fitted the first electrically powered shoulder.

In early 2003, Gow led a spin-out company from the National Health Service via Scottish Health Innovations Ltd, and in 2007 what had become Touch Bionics launched the i-LIMB hand, the first to incorporate five independently articulating fingers.

The prosthetic is controlled by the user’s muscles and allows for a range of movements. Users found they were able to hold items as delicate as flowers without damaging them. Touch Bionics has continued to refine the design, introducing for example ‘living skin’ which gives the hand a more natural appearance, and the i-LIMB Ultra which offers users the ability to gradually increase the strength of their grip on an object - this can help when a firmer grasp is required, such as when tying shoelaces or holding a heavy bag.

Science Museum

Livingston, West Lothian
Key Individuals
J Lyons and Co, David Gow, Touch Bionics,