Researchers have developed a new breath-driven concept set to transform access to hand prosthetics. (Credit: University of Oxford)

Researchers have developed a hand prosthesis powered and controlled by the user’s breathing. The simple, lightweight device offers an alternative to Bowden cable-driven body-powered prosthetics initially developed in the early 19th century — particularly for those too young or anatomically unsuited to an uncomfortable harness and cable system.

The new approach provides an alternative body-powered device for users in situations where cost, maintenance, comfort, and ease of use are primary considerations. By regulating their breathing, users power a small purpose-built Tesla turbine that can accurately control the prosthetic finger movements. The volume of air needed to power the unit can be achieved by young children, and the gearing in the unit determines the speed of the grasping action.

Cable and harness free, the device is suitable for children and adolescents who are still growing. Minimal maintenance and training are needed for ease of use in comparison to other prosthetic options.

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