Engineer creates prosthetic hand that GROWS with its user

Ewelina Drelich from Warsaw University of Technology came up with the idea for the hand prosthesis with cheap, interchangeable parts for her engineering thesis. Warsaw University of Technology/Press materials

A student from the Warsaw University of Technology is leading a team to create a hand prosthesis that grows with its user.

Ewelina Drelich, a graduate of engineering studies at the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering, and currently a student of the Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology, came up with the idea for the hand prosthesis with cheap, interchangeable parts for her engineering thesis.

Drelich said: “While preparing earlier for the interim project, in which I made a biological model of a hand, I got acquainted with the literature and research on the hand, its movements and prostheses.

The idea behind making the mechanics that operate the prothesis modular was to allow access to as many people as possible.Warsaw University of Technology/Press materials

“The problem that I came across was that in the beginning children only get aesthetic prostheses, which only provide them with basic grips. They are very small and therefore it is difficult to adjust the size of a more advanced prosthesis to a child so that it is light enough and everything works well."

The idea behind making the mechanics that operate the prothesis modular was to allow access to as many people as possible.

Prothesis that can operate with similar functionality to an arm and hand can cost between $20,000 and $100,000, making them unobtainable for most families.

Drelich said: “The problem that I came across was that in the beginning children only get aesthetic prostheses, which only provide them with basic grips. They are very small and therefore it is difficult to adjust the size of a more advanced prosthesis to a child so that it is light enough and everything works well.”Warsaw University of Technology/Press materials

When a child is growing rapidly and requires adjustments or new prothesis this can exacerbate the financial problem.

The solution to make the components interchangeable will help those who need to adapt or grow their existing prothesis do so in a more affordable way than purchasing a completely new model.

The ‘Replantation Service for hand amputations in Poland’ which has existed since 2010 has received over 1,500 applications for prothesis specifically for the hand in their first nine years of operation, with the last available data being from 2019.

The solution to make the components interchangeable will help those who need to adapt or grow their existing prothesis do so in a more affordable way than purchasing a completely new model.Warsaw University of Technology/Press materials

The supervisor of the thesis, Witold Rządkowski, Ph.D, Eng., said: “We are currently working on a thumb prosthesis.

“It is one of the most advanced fingers when it comes to hand prosthesis and it requires the most work. This is a finger that cannot really be replaced.

“Without each of the others, it is possible to function properly in the same way but without the thumb, it’s not.”