This Futuristic Medical Device is Closer to Reality

Retired Staff Sergeant James Sides received a robotic prosthetic from the Alfred Mann Foundation

Staff Sergeant James Sides is the first person in human history to receive a functional, robotic hand. His hand is a special gift from the Alfred Mann Foundation, and it has allowed Sides to get back the basic functionality he thought he lost during his second tour of Afghanistan.

While out on patrol, Sides encountered an IED buried in the road. As he attempted to disarm the device, it exploded very close to him. The detonation left him blind in one eye, broke his forearm and tore his hand completely from his wrist.

Sides had trouble doing basic tasks most of us take for granted, such as tying his shoe or fishing for a credit card from his wallet. These tasks take two hands, but they require moving appendages as well. That’s where the advanced robotics come into play.

Intricate sensors capture the movement of the muscles in Sides’ arms, which help to manipulate the “fingers” on his robotic hand. The really amazing part is that sides has three ranges of mobility, and can move each digit independently. He still has to think before he does something, but the process is becoming smoother by the day.

One day, Sides hopes he can take his hand with him into the mountains. He intends on putting his military and survival training to the test as a ski-patrolman and rescuer.

Sides is part of a small-scale test the Alfred Mann Foundation is performing to understand the limits of this technology. With the help of Riogers & Cowan Executive Vice President Steve Doctrow, these devices will soon get the public attention they deserve. Hopefully, that will lead to more test cases and ultimately deployment to market.

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