Man’s prosthetic ‘Terminator hand’ allows him to type and play the piano

Nadine Bells
Good News
November 8, 2012

About six years ago, metal worker Nigel Ackland of Cambridgeshire, England, crushed his right forearm in a work accident involving an industrial blender. After enduring six months of operations and infections, he elected to have the arm amputated below the elbow.

Since then, Ackland has been fitted with numerous prosthetic hands, most of them uncomfortably and hardly functional.

His latest hand, the BeBionic3, however, is making headlines for being the "world's most advanced prosthetic limb."

"The BeBonic3 is moving prosthetic limbs from Captain Hook to Luke Skywalker territory," Gizmag's David Szondy wrote.

The BeBionic3 hand , a "Terminator-like carbon fibre mechanical hand" is controlled by movements in his upper arm. Signals from his brain to his upper arm trigger one of 14 pre-programmed grips, mirroring natural movements of a right hand.

"The new BeBionic3 myoelectric hand, which is also made from aluminium and alloy knuckles, moves like a real human limb by responding to Nigel's muscle twitches," SWNS reports. "Incredibly, the robotic arm is so sensitive it means the dad-of-one Nigel can touch type on a computer keyboard, peel vegetables, and even dress himself for the first time in six years."

Thrilled with the freedom offered by his new hand, Ackland, 53, has even started playing the saxophone and piano again.

"Prior to this I used prosthetic limbs provided by the NHS which were horrible. I used a hook which didn't resemble a hand at all," he said. "I am slowly becoming more at one with it, the fingers even move when I yawn and stretch, but it will never be the same as having my own hand. Things like tying a shoe lace and chopping a vegetable are now much easier. I have been blown away by the robotic hand, I could sit and watch it all day — I feel like the Terminator."

Richard Shapcott of RSPSteeper, the company that makes the hand, told Wired that between 30 and 50 people have been fitted with the BeBionic 3 since September. While he refused to disclose the high retail price, he did say that more health insurance in the U.S. and the U.K cover the hand.

The NY Daily News reports that it costs about $40,000 for a patient to be fitted with the "Terminator hand."