Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Amputee gets new bionic hand

Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

When amputee Bryden Zaloum gets a new bionic hand he hopes it means he can finally shake someone's hand without the embarrassment of presenting a claw.

Twenty six years ago, the 54-year-old lost his right hand in a motor racing accident. Since then, he has been coping with a claw as a replacement for his fingers.

"But the disadvantage is obvious, you don't have the fingers to do things with."
Over 26 years, Mr Zaloum has compensated by overusing his left arm, "and now it's buggered."

"My body is almost wrecked.''

He can also still feel his missing hand, and the phantom pains are almost overwhelming.
However, his mate, Mat Jury is creating a new bionic hand that should fix those problems.

An electric hand can trick the brain into believing the hand has returned and the pain should go away, as well as giving the other, overused arm a well deserved rest.

Click here to view video about the hand for amputee Bryden Zaloum.

The electric model, still to be perfected, would allow Mr Zaloum to hold a glass, pick up fruit and even operate a computer mouse.

"For me that's massive because I'm at a point where my hand goes numb shaving, I have difficulty driving the car, I sometimes wake in the middle of the night and my whole left arm has gone numb," Mr Zaloum said.

"Any amputee will tell you, `Give me something that's more like the real thing'.''
Mr Zaloum is trialing a prototype hand that he and Mr Jury hope to market as a cheap alternative to other, more expensive, models on the market.

At the moment a bionic hand can be purchased for about $US95,000 (NZ$113,723) from the US.

Mr Zaloum said ACC and the Limb Centre deny electric hands for amputees because of the price. He and Mr Jury hope to produce one for about $NZ50,000.

Mr Jury is on his seventh version of the hand and so far it has cost about $10,000. He needs approximately $3000 more to finish it off.

He describes himself as a "bit of a mad professor."

Most of the parts for the hand were made in his garage over the last three years, and he hopes to have something in the marketplace in about two and a half years.

"There are a number of people that I want to help. It's really something that I've become quite passionate about."

- APNZ

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