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Monday, December 17, 2001
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Artificial thumb ‘mimics’ forefinger

Koh Wee Yung demonstrates a prosthetic thumb, developed by an eight-person team at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Koh Wee Yung demonstrates a prosthetic thumb, developed by an eight-person team at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Singapore students have created a battery-free artificial thumb which may give renewed hopes of flexibility to people missing the digit because of accidents or birth defects. The device is called Mimic.

Singapore students have created a battery-free artificial thumb that may give renewed hopes of flexibility to people missing the digit because of accidents or birth defects.

The device, called Mimic, is a small lightweight aluminium gadget that straps onto the back of the hand and wraps round the index finger to hold a moveable metal thumb in place.

"Two small pulleys and a fine steel cable keep the forefingers movement’s in synch with the metal thumb and allows a person to write and even pick up small objects."

 


"If you lost just one thumb, the only other alternative will be to get a prosthetic, non-movable thumb in Singapore or to take off your toe and replace it," Lim said on the sidelines of the University’s Innovation competition.

"It’s not really much of an alternative."

Other devices, such as prosthetics to replace a whole hand, were available but had to be wired up to the arm muscles to move.

The students, who spent five weeks working on the project, plan to patent Mimic in the USA.

The prototype cost just S$100 ($54.53), but each piece will have to be custom made to fit the wearer’s hand, Lim said. The team is currently in discussion with Singapore’s National University Hospital to test the device on patients.


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