The Development of "Life-Touch" : Pediatric, Bio-mechanical Hands

R. Radocy, M.S., TRS.


Modern voluntary closing prehensor (terminal device) technology was introduced into the prosthetic industry in the early 1980's. ADEPT@ prehensors, Figure 1. , were the first body powered, pediatric prosthetic devices to employ voluntary closing function successfully. ADEPT technology expanded in development throughout the 1989 and into the 90's by improving materials, reducing weight and refining the model designs. Ultimately four models were developed and are currently manufactured to suit children of different ages. Today ADEPTs represent the most efficient, pediatric, body powered terminal devices available to the profession.

Some past criticism of the ADEPTs' design was directed at their non-anthropomorphic appearance. TRS Inc., the company which pioneered the development and manufacturing of ADEPT devices, has now created a new concept in prehensors, which expands upon the success of the ADEPT products and should help satisfy these critics. "Life-Touch" @ bio-mechanical hands, Figure 2. , Figure 3. , and Figure 4. , are designed to emulate human hand appearance in a unique, patented way. They operate with a voluntary closing action, do not require a glove and provide the same level of efficiency that is available in ADEPT prehensors. The design goal was to create a prosthetic device which had enough anthropomorphic detail and appeal to satisfy the cosmetic needs of parents and patients, yet which did not make a major sacrifice in prehensor function.

In late 1997 and early 1998, a limited number of pediatric model "Life-Touch" prototypes were made available for initial field evaluation at select children's prosthetic clinics throughout the country. Clinics were chosen that were already familiar and successful with voluntary closing TRS prehensor technology. The initial responses from these clinics has been very positive. In fact the device was received so well that a demand for pre-production prototypes occurred. The improved anthropomorphic design appears to be accomplishing it's goal of being more appealing to patients and their parents, than the original ADEPT design. TRS expects that in certain instances prescriptions for ADEPT prehensors will be replaced with prescriptions for equivalent Life-Touch models. Because Life-Touch complement ADEPT technology, it is expected that children will use both and interchange ADEPT prehensor to Life-Touch hand as needed.

The Life Touch's anthropomorphic design is also expected to appeal to a broader international audience than the ADEPTs currently do. TRS perceives this to be an exciting prospect, because it will provide the introduction of voluntary technology to cultures, which have only had access to traditional split hook or passive, cosmetic hand technology in the past.

Finally the introduction of an anatomically correct, bio-mechanical hand provides an excellent complement to children who wear externally powered hand or who expect to wear an externally powered hand, when they are older. Life-Touch technology like all body-powered technology provides a significantly less expensive alternative to external power, when financing is a concern. Life-Touch are expected to be the technology capable of filling the gap that external power creates either due to cost. or performance concerns, when patients want a "hand-like" prosthesis but cannot afford "myo" technology or where the living environment makes "myo" technology inapplicable. Additionally Life-Touch, because they operate with a voluntary closing action, will also provide an innate and natural gripping prehension feedback, "a sense of touch", not available in externally powered hands.

TRS plans to have three Life-Touch models available by year end. Small, medium and large models will be equivalent to the ADEPT E, C and B, respectively. The small pediatric model became available in March, the large should be available by June and the medium by September or at the latest, year end 1998. The Life-Touch will be available in TRS's in three colors. Tan, Medium Brown and Dark Complexion.

For more information about Life-Touch, including their availability, make inquiries to your local prosthetic professional or contact TRS directly in Colorado.

TRS, Inc.
2450 Central Ave., Unit D
Boulder, Colorado 80301
Phone (303) 444-4720, Fax (303) 444-4720
Toll Free 1-800-279-1865

Boulder, Colorado