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Category: “Bionic” prostheses

Case-study of a user-driven prosthetic arm design: bionic hand versus customized body-powered technology in a highly demanding work environment [article out]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Case-study of a user-driven prosthetic arm design: bionic hand versus customized body-powered technology in a highly demanding work environment [article out]; published January 4, 2018, 14:29; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8066.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Case-study of a user-driven prosthetic arm design: bionic hand versus customized body-powered technology in a highly demanding work environment [article out]}}, month = {January},year = {2018}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8066}}


 


This is a blog post of one of the rare focused and well based scientific journal articles that really explains how real work, body powered and myoelectric arms relate and go together for a unilateral right below elbow amputee in a physically demanding work environment.

The prior presentation of this paper [poster at Cybathlon symposium 2016], which had been more pragmatically worded (with me thinking people would know anyway), this was now written up as article and published. During that process, the reviewers clearly made great points of all kinds of aspects I never knew were not sky clear to everyone.

So maybe, writing a ~ 30 page case study with > 210 references does clarify stuff, at least potentially and for those that actually read it. But possibly, it still requires attention to even just read it.

Knowledge does not come easy, Highlander! (Nakano, in: Highlander III The Final Dimension)

 

If you are more interested in visionary posts, read about the gadget features of the prosthetic arm in Kingsmen: The Golden Circle [link]. And technically, myoelectric control did have it coming. That technology remained uncool for four decades [link].

Publication [link]

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Guitar pick holder for iLimb / Dunlop TORTEX picks [3d printed solution]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Guitar pick holder for iLimb / Dunlop TORTEX picks [3d printed solution]; published February 12, 2017, 17:23; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7198.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Guitar pick holder for iLimb / Dunlop TORTEX picks [3d printed solution]}}, month = {February},year = {2017}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7198}}


As we all know, I just recently designed and rapid prototyped a guitar pick holder for my prosthetic hook.

And guess what, this guitar pick holder also perfectly fits my iLimb revolution, certainly making me the first official "Cyborg AND 3d-print" endowing prosthetic arm guitar player, like, ever ; ) That just got to be raising hell, getting all these new hyped up slogan words lined up, like, together. Plus, this is just a really first test, as in, first minutes. I put in on, and 5 minutes later, this.

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Myoelectric arm dialog

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Myoelectric arm dialog; published February 10, 2017, 13:01; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8492.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Myoelectric arm dialog}}, month = {February},year = {2017}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=8492}}


On the user discussion portals, things are often interesting and relevant as they are based on actual experiences. One question once was: "Is anyone able to tell me whether it is normal that my "bionic" hand breaks so many times within such a short amount of time? Do others have that problem as well?" - All text rewritten and paraphrased for anonymous quotation.

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iLimb / myoelectric arm: chronic skin rash due to local myoelectric skin electrode placement during bicycle ride [complication report] [bad hand days/weeks/month] (towards the AUA/WIFUCD dichotomy)

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - iLimb / myoelectric arm: chronic skin rash due to local myoelectric skin electrode placement during bicycle ride [complication report] [bad hand days/weeks/month] (towards the AUA/WIFUCD dichotomy); published January 29, 2017, 17:10; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7130.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - iLimb / myoelectric arm: chronic skin rash due to local myoelectric skin electrode placement during bicycle ride [complication report] [bad hand days/weeks/month] (towards the AUA/WIFUCD dichotomy)}}, month = {January},year = {2017}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7130}}


Testing myoelectric arm components in general: uncharted territories

Prosthetic arms in general do not usually appear to be tested a lot before getting thrown at the user, which is a statement that I find many examples for (glove may disintegrate all by itself; glove dies after just a few minutes of car washing; bolts never checked for size; etc.).

This is not to say that this is intrinsically bad - no. This is to say that the burden of testing and suffering the associated negative consequences of that also then reside with the user. If - at all - a company finds it unacceptable that users perform the testing and resulting discussions bad in any way, then (and only then) may they wish to consider a different type of product marketing and testing approach.

The question of whether manufacturers of prosthetic components test anything at all, also for skin safety, that question: it now also officially extends to skin electrodes.

As suggested by their ample advertising, a range of "bionic" myoelectric arms are demonstrated and shown around, as being able to sustain bicycle riding. So we have to assume that everyone seems to be of the opinion that it is cool to ride bikes, with, say, wearing an iLimb.

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Grip strengths (measured results)

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Grip strengths (measured results); published January 18, 2017, 20:09; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7085.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Grip strengths (measured results)}}, month = {January},year = {2017}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7085}}


Using a Camry EH101 electronic hand dynamometer, I went through a few prosthetic terminal devices for my arm to see just how strong they were. And I added a baseline for my (human) left hand and my (bare) stump.

This certainly provides a base for a range of discussions later. Or previous ones ; )

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Towards Extreme Cyborging (EC) microworks: very small things [grip mechanics theory, parametrization and then testing side by side - Trautman hook, Hosmer Mod 5 hook, TRS Prehensor, Touch Bionics iLimb revolution]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Towards Extreme Cyborging (EC) microworks: very small things [grip mechanics theory, parametrization and then testing side by side - Trautman hook, Hosmer Mod 5 hook, TRS Prehensor, Touch Bionics iLimb revolution]; published December 28, 2016, 17:52; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7010.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Towards Extreme Cyborging (EC) microworks: very small things [grip mechanics theory, parametrization and then testing side by side - Trautman hook, Hosmer Mod 5 hook, TRS Prehensor, Touch Bionics iLimb revolution]}}, month = {December},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7010}}


Small things to be picked up, side by side demo with other prosthetic devices.

Yes, very small things.

"It is the little things that count", they said. "The little things are important", they said. They all said that. But behold, their "bionic" apparatus cannot handle little things! "Why is a hook not evil", they wondered. And a storm of little demo videos came upon them. Deep into the myriad of grip mechanics this went.

"Get a grip on grips", he said.

This totally bypasses the fact that after laying down real life consequences for what I call Extreme Cyborging, I just finished building my first own steel Trautman hook, and all just with shape information from the internet. Yeah, you read that right. I did not build yet another one of the ubiquitous funny hands that promises to change my life or what it is these 3D printed hands now do - no. I sit on the demand and I sit on the technology and what is it that I do? See? This is what should really disturb you - because given the current signs of the times, it should feel deeply wrong on many levels. To you. But then, we were likely living on different planets all along, and maybe it is time you realize that too ; ) After we knew since years in detail what the Cybathlon showed us yet again, with glory but not with any improvement, it is yet again up to us, the users, to push further into what is, what can be, and what matters. And honestly? We have seen far enough funny hand videos.

What we have not seen is the Rebirth of The Cool. The Rebirth of an absolutely insane gripper. Physically. In 3D printed steel. The Trautman hook is such a device. And I went for it just because I can.
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Grip planning and carrying out [TRS Prehensor vs. iLimb Ultra Revolution - theory and practice]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Grip planning and carrying out [TRS Prehensor vs. iLimb Ultra Revolution - theory and practice]; published October 17, 2016, 17:49; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6764.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Grip planning and carrying out [TRS Prehensor vs. iLimb Ultra Revolution - theory and practice]}}, month = {October},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6764}}


To reliably plan and successfully carry out a grip using a prosthetic hand or gripper, it helps having a few requirements met.

This is obviously not clear at this moment, as recent experiences at the Cybathlon show. All the same, others and myself have addressed various related grip aspects previously so this is something we can come back to.

So let us start by watching the iLimb hand trying to grasp a clothespin.

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Functional failures of prosthetic hands at the Cybathlon 2016 [details]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Functional failures of prosthetic hands at the Cybathlon 2016 [details]; published October 16, 2016, 13:23; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7655.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Functional failures of prosthetic hands at the Cybathlon 2016 [details]}}, month = {October},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=7655}}


The Cybathlon 2016 was accompanied with publically broadcast video documentation of the event.

It is just not just as systematic as one would wish for a comprehensive research and development setting, but then, it was not an academic research event, but a publicity performance. But still, it contains a plethora of technical references.

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Der Cybathlon 2016 wurde bei den Armprothesen von einem Mann mit "Hook" gewonnen [#research #surprise #bodypowered]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Der Cybathlon 2016 wurde bei den Armprothesen von einem Mann mit "Hook" gewonnen [#research #surprise #bodypowered]; published October 11, 2016, 18:34; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6670.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Der Cybathlon 2016 wurde bei den Armprothesen von einem Mann mit "Hook" gewonnen [#research #surprise #bodypowered]}}, month = {October},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6670}}


2 Comments

Ich weiss jetzt nicht, ob Sie das mitbekommen haben. Und ob Sie begreifen was da passiert ist.

Aber am Cybathlon 2016 (Cybathlon, ETH, NCCR Robotics), einer Art Behindertenschaulaufen ohne besonderen  wissenschaftlichen aber dafuer sehr publikumswirksamen Hintergrund [wieso/was:link] mit mehrheitlich durch das Patronat der ETH suggerierten "High-Tech-Hintergrund" gewann ein Mann das Armprothesenrennen, der einen "Hook" trug [siehe detaillierte Griffanalyse, link]. Arschcool, mit 67 ein Senior, dort auch klar der älteste.

Fehlerfrei und schnell.

bodypoweredclothespins

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The Cybathlon as iconic Trash Culture modern day Circus show: arm amputees, arms race and technical considerations regarding specific applicants [proper research domain assignment, pre-race evaluation of critical check points, detailed in-race grip analysis, cultural domain considerations, gonzo race report]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - The Cybathlon as iconic Trash Culture modern day Circus show: arm amputees, arms race and technical considerations regarding specific applicants [proper research domain assignment, pre-race evaluation of critical check points, detailed in-race grip analysis, cultural domain considerations, gonzo race report]; published October 7, 2016, 17:28; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6378.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - The Cybathlon as iconic Trash Culture modern day Circus show: arm amputees, arms race and technical considerations regarding specific applicants [proper research domain assignment, pre-race evaluation of critical check points, detailed in-race grip analysis, cultural domain considerations, gonzo race report]}}, month = {October},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6378}}


Executive summary

  • Arm amputation is more a social (and complex) than just a manual handicap in many daily situations. Therefore many approaches to dealing with it are social and socially motivated, including hand color. You did land on a right below elbow amputation website, like, apparently, so that is the angle from which this comes. Also we made sure this is the title of this website. Different aspects may apply to higher level and bilateral arm amputation, but that is not the target of this website.
  • Conversely, most actually manual problems are not major. What heavily impacts many unilateral arm amputees after 5-8 years or maybe after 10 -20 years, is the impact of overuse of the intact arm and asymmetry related problems. A rational approach to prevent that is to use prosthetic arms that excel particularly at the heavy to extreme range of physical exposure. Those are typically modern body powered arms. These use well established control principles, but can be made from very modern materials. They suffer from medial representations that are largely negative ("Captain Hook"). Myoelectric arms are termed "high tech" simply because they may contain a battery and motors, but they suffer from a battery of intractable or constrained problem combinations.
  • For that, the ETH has so far not been necessary to add to the field of prosthetic arms, but trash culture approaches have a lot going for them regardless of that. My own practical and pragmatic research (see also below) contains such elements and now, the ETH also is proud organizer of a Circus freak show (which in essence is an event that lacks academic approaches and reduces intellectual participation to staring).
  • Neither the ETH nor the NCCR Robotics ever managed to acknowledge that or develop even the tiniest solution to solve just about anything in that matter (remember the title of this page?). That is perfectly OK as quite possibly, myoelectric arms are uninteresting from an actual researcher point of view once one understands the full scope of problems, and body powered arms are uninteresting because their problems are a combination of mechanics, material science, and context dependent issues that usually require deep insights which is currently performed by a small relatively close knit international community of amputees, developers and researchers.
  • Given their academic background claims, ETH or NCCR based approaches could and should have focused on studying intricate differences and aspects of prosthetic arm success and failure during the Cybathlon competition in all situations, pre-race and in-race. I mean: if you claim you want to do, or push, research, better sit down and work on a really detailed introductory explanation to show that we all see how much you understand what detailed features we are all looking for. I am most definitely all for that, but I do not shy away from weird staring contest evaluations either. These define an amputee's daily reality more than you might like.
  • But to no surprise, the technical research representatives neither prepared, nor carried out, such, so any technical analysis of the race that then was presented to the public to actually increase some real understanding for the effectively present research problems and real world issues so it will never be possible in sufficient detail or write any great scientific paper about it. Or, not from how it looks now.
  • Thus, academically (not industrially, not as bystander, person that loves to stare at arm amputees or spectator), the event of the Cybathlon prosthetic arm race was a thoroughly missed opportunity if not a failure.
  • This does not mean that the Cybathlon as such was meaningless; it just showed that body powered technology (TRS, TRS prehensor) as very calmly and perfectly performed and carried out by a 67 year old man (Bob Radocy) that did not visibly hurry but chewed gum for the whole event left all "robotic" competition behind - while I had warned the organizers from a one-dimensional overly simplistic evaluation two years ago. I had always told them exactly what Claudia Breidbach said in her statement after the finals race: you cannot compare, across various different arm amputation with adapted different devices, what a good performance is. They knew as they had been extensively informed beforehand. The search for what prosthetic arms should be able to actually do well remains ongoing though, the odyssey apparently continues with a Cybathlon 2020.
  • And while any evidence based rational mind would now more than ever (a) want a body powered prosthesis and (b) further research on that type of prosthesis, it was the very clear aim by the organizers to not include these arms in the race at all, until I had imposed myself onto the organizers, had a very serious word with them and convinced them to admit also body powered arms which they did.
  • The Swiss National Foundation (SNF) is strongly advised to look into the intricate aspects of all failures of (a) research opportunities missed and (b) strategic solutions actually needed in prosthetic arm and hand field, (c) appoint very competent coordinators and advisors there and (d) not finance silly "competitions" such as this that do not further science at all or (e) finance more myoelectric nonsense.
  • All the same, the Cybathlon was a great experience in how ETH hype, tech media hype and gadget hand industry hype take a royal tanking against real life based real men, and, if you need a short but intensive read on the reasons why the myoelectric arms missed out today, check my Cybathlon Symposium scientific contribution, you will find there more relevant text than in many other places.
  • I do not hate myoelectric arms. Personally I must have invested more finances into my own myoelectric gadgets than into my body powered components. However, that does not make me blind, dumb or gadget happy. I still test, look, think and analyze. I still work on finding better ways, solutions, parts or usage tricks for both systems. But then, coming from an engineering perspective (funny you come here to read that) - finding the exact problem, identifying the exact issue, has been placed before being ablt to solving it. And the simple beauty of engineering is, that whatever your attempt at covering up your tricks, at the end of the day, the contraption either works, or it does not.
  • While Professor Riener verbally once (1) at the Cybathlon race itself mentioned the fact that cable powered technology won (we were there, see Gonzo report below), they made sure none of that leaked to the Swiss television, or BBC, or newspapers, or IEEE, or other press. They simply buried the fact that they were left eating dust by some very athletic older gentleman wearing a body powered prosthetic arm. Because that is like having someone in sandals and swim trunks run up on Mount Everest. They do not report that as it is seen as putting the other efforts to shame rather than being seen as someone, something, a situation to finally learn from. And that puts massive question marks to the news writers, tech representatives and researchers: is what you do something we have to believe, because quite clearly, facts are not consistent with it? Do you represent a type of religion or belief system?
  • Not all are like that. The Scientific American, a journal that I am a subscriber and reader of since many, many years, reports extremely well, and explains the actual technical aspects of the winning device.
  • The Cybathlon was announced as competition that allows visitors to "understand the issues surrounding disability in a practical way". When not even the organizers understand these issues, and not even in a theoretical way, how on earth can they assume an ability to instruct visitors so they understand disability issues?

Trash Culture, the Cybathlon prosthetic arms race show Circus, and other prosthetic limb Trash Culture approaches

"Mommy, do I have to repeat every mistake others made before me myself?" - "Yes, one can learn so much from mistakes".

Don't get me wrong here.

Trash Culture is a great contemporary experience. If anything, this is what gets people talking. But it is not research or academic. This is not at all a critique, but an attempt to better localize this strange event in context of prosthetic arms, amputation and society.

It is just a Circus.

To unmake it a Circus and Make It a Technical Contest, a bit more attention to detail would have be needed. A lot more attention to detail would have made it a great event. That all was missed.

Now, I will supplement you with the required extra details below to make it a research observation despite the organizers successful attempts to keep it simple, hip, sexy and trashy .... but let that not spoil the fun for you.

boot

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#userdrivendesign Prosthetic arm design: i-Limb Revolution versus customized body powered arm in a work environment combining bodily exertion, wide temperature ranges, wide body motion ranges, heavy workload and subtle grips [Cybathlon Symposium, Oct 6 2016, Poster A12]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - #userdrivendesign Prosthetic arm design: i-Limb Revolution versus customized body powered arm in a work environment combining bodily exertion, wide temperature ranges, wide body motion ranges, heavy workload and subtle grips [Cybathlon Symposium, Oct 6 2016, Poster A12]; published October 2, 2016, 13:05; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6342.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - #userdrivendesign Prosthetic arm design: i-Limb Revolution versus customized body powered arm in a work environment combining bodily exertion, wide temperature ranges, wide body motion ranges, heavy workload and subtle grips [Cybathlon Symposium, Oct 6 2016, Poster A12]}}, month = {October},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6342}}


PDF of poster presentation @ Cybathlon Symposium Oct 06 2016 @ Kloten.

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Bad Hand Day IV (iLimb, as usual)

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Bad Hand Day IV (iLimb, as usual); published September 6, 2016, 09:18; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6317.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Bad Hand Day IV (iLimb, as usual)}}, month = {September},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6317}}


I tried to wear my iLimb on Sunday, for cleaning out travel equipment and so on.

But the hand never stopped closing. I opened it, it closed by itself. Always.

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Prosthetic options and Yenga - intricate grip differentiation details [up close grip mechanics]

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Prosthetic options and Yenga - intricate grip differentiation details [up close grip mechanics]; published June 14, 2016, 19:30; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6144.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1571744892, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{Technical Below Elbow Amputee Issues - Prosthetic options and Yenga - intricate grip differentiation details [up close grip mechanics]}}, month = {June},year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=6144}}


Playing Yenga at a prosthetic arm workshop was interesting.

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