The Menlo Roundtable

Building a Myeoelectric Hand

In the US alone, there are an estimated 2 million amputees, and by 2050, this number is expected to increase to 3.6 million. Prostheses are becoming a larger part of the future, and thus need to be modernized. Furthermore, they need to be cheaper.

Two of the more modern prostheses, the body-powered prosthesis and the myoelectric prosthesis, can cost up to $30,000 and $100,000 respectively. These high prices make access to these prostheses fairly exclusive, which needs to change. Hence, the goal of this project was to build a myoelectric prosthetic hand.

What this meant, in short, was designing a prosthesis that could do three things: detect the muscle signals, send the signals to an Arduino to be analyzed, and then move the appropriate servos to manipulate the fingers. In choosing this project, I hoped to learn more about signal processing and microcontrollers, as well as the intersection between medicine and engineering.

Photo: Adobe Stock