Oxford Researchers Develop Revolutionary New Breathing-Powered Hand Prosthesis

Working in collaboration with clinical partners and patient volunteers in India, researchers at the Department of Engineering Science have developed a revolutionary new hand prosthesis powered and controlled by the user’s breathing. This new approach provides an alternative body-powered device for users in situations where cost, maintenance, comfort and ease of use are primary considerations.

The most widely used functional upper-limb prosthesis remains the cable-driven body-powered system, which can be prohibitively expensive to own and maintain in low-resource settings because of the costs associated with the necessary professional fitting and maintenance. The new breathing-powered device offers an alternative to Bowden cable-driven body-powered prosthetics – particularly for those too young or anatomically unsuited to an uncomfortable harness and cable system – and provides a simple, lightweight, low-maintenance and easy-to-use body-powered prosthetic option for those in low and middle-income countries.

This research represents a step-change in making prosthetics more widely accessible and helping overcome challenges with current options. The full paper, ‘Reimagining prosthetic control: A novel body-powered prosthetic system for simultaneous control and actuation,’ (July 2022) is available in the journal Prosthesis.