As a disability and personal injury lawyer, it pains me to see my clients in agony. It is just as disheartening to see children and veterans suffer.
The technology for lower limb loss is ahead of the game over upper limb devices. But an article on Fox News today was really encouraging. Silvestro Micera of Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) revealed a new bionic hand that may let amputees feel again. The electrical components of the hand can be attached directly into the nerves of the patient. They were able to record signals from the device related to grasping.
This is huge. There are devices out now for amputees to use. The typical hook-type hand that allows a person to open and close the device to pick up items is probably the most common. Touch Bionics, a company in Massachusetts, developed the I-Limb. This is a mechanical hand with individual moving fingers. This is great, but the leap to creating the touch sensation is amazing. Remember the scene in Star Wars – Empire Strikes Back, when Luke gets his mechanical hand and the robot taps the mechanical hand with a pin and Luke responded. This technology may be reality soon.
Advancements in technology for people with disabilities are awesome. The emotional weight these people feel is incredible. They lose their freedom at times. They feel less than what they were. Giving independence to people with disabilities is a great gift.
Obamacare threatens these advancements as the new taxes on medical equipment could slow the research of such devices.
On major obstacle people with disabilities face is the cost of these devices. Some health insurance companies cover very little or nothing at all for durable medical equipment. With increasing costs and changes in health care, Medicare and Medicaid may not cover these items.