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A helping hand for Kiwi amputees

Wednesday 9 Jan 2013 5:05 p.m.

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By Rhiannon McConnell

A Lower Hutt engineer has developed a computer-assisted prosthetic hand, which he says will cost less than half of those already on the market.

Mat Jury almost lost the use of his arms in a mountain bike crash a few years ago. Now he's keen to give Kiwi amputees a helping hand.

Palmerston North IT consultant Bryden Zaloum lost his hand in a motor racing accident in 1986.

“I threw the car sideways and my arm went out the window, and as the car rolled, the cage came over and squashed the top of my hand,” says Mr Zaloum.

He's been using a claw since then, but that changed when he met Mr Jury, who has spent the last three years developing a bionic hand.

“I saw the first of the bionic hands come on the market and I though, ‘Yes that’s cool.' Then I saw the price, US$95,000, and I thought ‘That's ridiculous. Surely we can do it better than that?’” says Mr Jury.

A bionic hand currently costs about NZ$50,000, but the Wellington engineer hopes to create his for less than half that.

For Mr Zaloum, everyday activities like picking up fruit or shaking a hand makes it priceless.

The Artificial Limb Centre supports Mr Jury's project, but says it's too early to tell if his computer-assisted hand will differ greatly from those already on the market.

Mr Zaloum’s bionic arm should be ready to roll by the middle of the year.

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