Research and Development

Upper Limb Prosthetics

• Historically the constituent services in SMART have been involved in a number of research and development areas; most notably the Bioengineering Services were engaged in almost continuous research in upper limb prosthetics from the founding of the Bioengineering Centre in 1963 until 2002. The Bioengineering Centre was founded to conduct research and development into powered prostheses for children affected by thalidomide.

• The work was done under the direction of Professor David Simpson who established an international reputation for the centre’s work with Carbon Dioxide powered prostheses. The prostheses consisted of powered hands/terminal devices, wrist rotation and powered elbow and shoulder joints all controlled by residual movements of the patients’ shoulders.

• Subsequent programmes of research and development built on this pioneering work and expanded into electrically powered devices. Under the direction of David Gow the work continued with the development of the World’s first electrically powered shoulder prosthesis in 1998 to clinical trials of a partial hand system in 2000.

• In 2002 he established the company TouchEMAS Ltd (now TouchBionics) as the first spin out company from the NHS. This company successfully launched the world’s most advanced hand prosthesis (The iLimb™) in 2007 and the first commercially available partial hand system ProDigits™ in 2009.

• iLimb™ and ProDigits™ are trademarks registered to TouchBionics