Sunday, October 30, 2011

Arm upgrade

Trevor Prideaux (pictured), a 50-year-old catering manager from Somerset, U.K., has made international news for the modification he has made to his prosthesis (more photo here). Prideaux was born without a left forearm and has worn a prosthetic limb since the age of 3. When updating from a regular cellphone to a smartphone, the disadvantage of his disability sparked an idea. "[I]t became clear that this piece of technology was not ideally suited to be used with only one hand. When testing an iPhone, with the thoughts of purchase, I had to balance it on my prosthetic limb to text. I wondered whether it was possible to have a mobile phone built into my limb, to aid usage." He worked with Nokia and his local Exeter Mobility Centre to embed a phone dock right in his fibreglass and laminate limb. It took just 5 weeks for prosthethist Steve Gallichan, technician Les Street, and undergraduate worker Sarah Bennett to create a prototype. With his Nokia C7 stable, he has an easier time with the voice and keyboard capabilities. "Now when I get a call I can either hold my arm up to my ear or put it on speaker phone. I can also take it out if I need to. Texting is also much easier and a lot safer." Prideaux hopes the arm-dock idea will catch on. "I think this would help a lot of people with prosthetic arms—especially those who were not born with the disability." But I hope that this postmodern adaptation will become an option in the more futuristic prostheses - like the I-Limb hand, the Luke arm, and the Immaculate - in addition to the classic Hosmer hook that he prefers. "My Nokia C7 sits within my forearm, between my stump socket and the single knob rotary that holds my limb attachments in place."

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