Being able to use the prosthetic for driving is a relevant aspect. Taking strain off the (remaining) left arm and hand is one very important aspect. And just enjoying the sheer ability is another. So here is how that works with the Becker Phantom Bionic hand.
I have the privilege to present to you the Becker Phantom Bionic hand.
It is ultra fast, silent and adaptive.
It is more effective than any other currently sold bionic hand. And it is durable, stable, robust and extremely fashionable. It carries boxes, holds power tools, and allows me to vacuum and to iron. But ultimately it is the many little things that cause me to really fall in love with this hand.
Noise issues with other hands
The Becker Phantom Bionic hand almost completely silent and works without getting all the attention some sick loud gadgets try to snatch these days - so it really works in social settings such as meetings or parties.
After I got a temporary self made mount installed I figured out its pros and cons. One problem was GPS reception, acceptable but not great. Another problem was that iTunes only works in portrait but not in landscape mode. Surely a glitch Apple overlooked (among others [link] [link]) but nevertheless a point to consider.
Last but not the least I wanted a rock solid slide-in solution, not a clip that required a bi-manual fiddle type activity of any sorts.
I always seem to have problems with keys. Mostly that is because I need my (left) hand to handle car door, luggage, door handles and other stuff. So the prosthetic needs to be able to hold on to and handle keys.
Recently I found that cable ties are great because they are dirt cheap, widely available and super useful.
I decided to build a mount for my Apple iPhone 4's TomTom car kit. I wanted it to be neatly outside the front window area (visual clutter of that area can be a hazard) and I wanted it tucked somewhere centrally so a passenger could help playing with it when on the road.
Obviously the mount needs to be completely rattle free, flexible to access and rewire or replace cables, mount or remove the iPhone and access the device with ease. There should be no screws or glue needed so fast and complete removal of all installations are a must. This is usually best achieved by precise fitting of inserts that neither wiggle nor slide.
Also, it appeared that both audio and 12V jacks were located along the middle, with the 12V jack being b0th in the middle console and the arm rest, and the 3,5mm stereo audio jack in the arm rest of the car.
The model is a standard Subaru Impreza 1.5L Swiss Edition 2010.
I was a firm supporter of the idea that we are surrounded by prosthetic items all around and anyway. I posted about this previously [here, here]. We are embedded in prosthetic artifacts that make up our culture - out technical, mechanical, communicative and also social values all hinge upon devices, contraptions, pieces and parts, items, objects and things. That was why it was so weird to see the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie not understand that there are no real watches or fake prosthetic hands, or to see Hans Op de Beeck believe that his wide usage of airplanes, internet, website and other technology was still human whereas wearing a prosthetic was not.
The question of what prosthetic to buy is thus a very valid question.
Because in terms of prosthetic add-ons, they all compete. They *all* compete.
Recent new prosthetic arms [Otto Bock Michelangelo hand, BeBionic and BeBionic v2 hand, new Vincent hand, iLimb and iLimb pulse] cost more than a car. Their prices and cost are so high (ranging between 35'000 to 110'000 CHF) that no self respecting insurance should cover these given you can't even deliver a decent hedge cutting or furniture moving with these. These prosthetic arms are basically useless (practically speaking) items that are created to be paraded around. For that, their questionable value contradicts their massive prices. If anything their value is probably social and in fact exactly this social value was realized and exploited by a youngster who managed to get his iLimb branded by Mercedes' F1-team. Cool for a 15 year old, but not too interesting for a 44 year old such as myself.
Other products in that price range compete with prosthetic arms now that we do agree they will end up as self funded adventures. And given that, we wonder what social problems we have, and what social problems we want to solve. And given *that*, we wonder what cultural and technological prostheses might be at least as worthwhile getting than a prosthetic "bionic" arm or such.
Driving with a disability that requires a prosthetic arm is a peculiar subject.
I drive a Mini Cooper 2007. However, the way Mini BMW went about their hard to tackle electronic problems were not transparent or easy to understand.
The Mini Cooper 2007 can be a somewhat expensive but beautiful car to drive as an amputee. Since Mini BMW Switzerland confronted me with a difficult situation (they recommended modification through dealers but appeared to insufficiently document these guys with the effect that modification cost ran up comparatively high), I am detailing the experience from my point of view here. Please consider getting in touch with Mini BMW beforehand and consider other vehicles as well. Volkswagen, for example, have their own product line for disability modifications.