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Scottish Engineer Devises Versatile Hand

At 8,500 a piece it doesnt come cheap. But the new bionic hand, developed by a Scottish engineer, is termed a massive advance on previous artificial limbs .

It can't click its fingers or play the piano but there's not much else it won't do.

It can, for instance, turn a key in a lock, hold a wine glass or punch a pin number into a cash machine.

David Gow who works with with Lothian NHS in Scotland and the inventor of the new device, points out for the first time, the artificial hand can bends its fingers to grip objects.

The i-LIMB has a flexible wrist and rotating thumbs. 'And it's the first to come to the market that has bending fingers just like your own,' said Mr Gow.

Lighter than a real hand, the device capitalizes on the brain's determination to try to move a limb even when it has been lost. The brain thinks it is still there and sends signals to the nerves and severed muscles.

These are intercepted by delicate sensors and used to move tiny motors hidden in the artificial fingers.

While traditional prostheses have only one motor, allowing limited movement, the i-Limb has five, with one concealed between the base and knuckle of each finger.

Covered in artificial skin, the one-size-fits-all hand has already won the approval of patients on both sizes of the Atlantic, including Iraq war veterans.

Father-of-two Juan Arrendondo, was a sergeant in the US army when he lost his hand to a roadside bomb in 2004. He tried several other artificial hands before settlingon the i-LIMB. The 27-year-old-from Texas said: 'Now I can pick up a Styrofoam cup without crushing it.

'With my other hand, I really had to concentrate how much pressure I was putting on the cup. Every day I have this hand, it surprises me.'

The device is on sale privately, with an entirely lifelike version for around 13,000. It could be availab
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