“Prosthetic Hand”: Designing and Building a Hand Prosthesis

Prosthetic limbs have been around for thousands of years. The oldest prosthesis found was from around 710 BC and is a big toe made from wood and leather. Through most of history, prosthetic devices were simple devices. They were usually made of wood or metal, and attached to the body using leather straps. Even at the start of the 21st century, a typical prosthetic arm was movable but only had two or three joints: an elbow, possibly a wrist, and a hook that could be opened or closed.

New kinds of prosthetic arms have many more joints. Fingers can open and close, and the arm can rotate and swing at the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. They have sensors that can detect what the arm is touching, how the object feels, even how hot it is.  People wearing one of these new arms can even pick up an egg without breaking it!

The new arms use lots of sensors and motors that need to be very small and light. These parts are made of plastics or light, strong metals such as aluminum. The prosthetic arms have to attach firmly but comfortably to the body. Engineers are even working on artificial skin that might be used to cover and control the prosthesis.

 Over the next few days you will be learning about designing solutions to overcome challenges.  
Your team of 2-3 will complete a series of activities revolving around the ideas of biomedical engineering, adaptations, team work, while using STEM concepts