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Eric Jones holding Lego block with ProDigits  (Source: Touch Bionics)
Device can cost over $70,000

Most of us take little things like holding a glass or brushing our teeth for granted. For some people who have lost hands or fingers, these tasks can be impossible to accomplish without help or specialized equipment.

A new generation of bionic fingers has been unveiled by a company called Touch Bionics. The company is developing advanced upper-limb bionic technologies and has announced the official launch of its ProDigits bionic finger. ProDigits are the world's first powered bionic solution for people who have lost fingers.

The ProDigits prosthetics are custom built for each application by clinicians to insure that they function ideally for the patient. ProDigits are controlled by using one of two methods. Either myoelectric sensors that register muscle signals from the residual finger or palm can be used or a pressure sensitive switch in the form of a force sensitive resistor or a touchpad can be used to control the fingers. The last approach relies on the remnant of the finger or the tissue surrounding the metacarpal bone to provide the necessary pressure to activate the finger.

One user of the ProDigits prosthetic Michael Bailey said, "Honestly, I had only put it [ProDigits] on for five minutes and I was getting it to work just fine. It feels like it belongs there, like it’s part of me."

The Telegraph reports that the ProDigits device costs between £35,000 and £45,000 and requires no surgery. That works out to roughly $57,000 to $73,000 USD. The chances of patients' insurance actually covering this prosthetic is slim meaning that the ProDigits system will be well out of the reach of most people who could benefit from the technology.

A range of coverings can be chosen by the patient including clear skins and a "livingskin" pattern that is natural looking. ProDigits hope to work with the National Health Service in the future for payments in Europe.

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RE: Lame
By lightfoot on 12/9/2009 3:31:54 PM , Rating: 2
In the United States, roughly 57% of all research funding is provided by the Federal Government. 3% is provided by non-profit charities. 29% is funded by for-profit medical companies. the remaining 11% is provided by state and local governments.

So yes, even with socialized medicine we would still have medical research, but it would be reduced by roughly 30%.

RE: Lame
By Sahrin on 12/9/2009 6:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
You leave out the part where there is no compulsion to spend the money.

First, government directed research generally sucks (this is admitted by NSF and NIH officals).

Second, rightly or wrongly, without multi-billion dollar corporations and universities and hospitals and independent research facilities (which make their money providing for-profit services to the public) lobbying congress to spend the money, how much of that 57% do you think would be spent?

Hell, the entire F-22 program exists today as a result of lobbying. I love the plane, it is an amazing and unequaled piece of technology - but it exists because Lockheed and DoD lobbied congress and convinced them to spend the money. If there were no Air Force or Lockheed Martin, there would be no money - and therefore no F-22.

RE: Lame
By mallums on 12/13/2009 4:26:21 AM , Rating: 2
I love the F22. But it's a failure. In general, I agree with you, I think, but the F22 is a bad example.

(I think the problems with the F22 can be fixed, but it's cancelled, so, moot point. I think we need an F22-like plane, but they say not, a cheaper, dumber plane is more appropriate for current "defense" needs. [sarcasm] Whatever. [/sarcasm])

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