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Victim of Flesh-eating Bacteria Receives Revolutionary Bionic Hands

May 18, 2013 02:46 PM EDT
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iLimb
Ian Reid, 37, uses a prosthetic arm manufactured by Tough Bionics like the ones now used by Aimee Copeland.
(Photo : Touch Bionics)

Aimee Copeland found herself at the center of national media attention when, during May of last year, the University of West Georgia graduate student fell and injured herself when a homemade zip line she was holding snapped.

Twenty-two staples and three days later she re-entered the emergency room still in pain where doctors diagnosed her with necrotizing fascitis caused by the flesh-eating bacteria Aeromonas hydrophila.

Ultimately, the battle with the infection cost her both hands, a leg and a foot.

Today, however, Copeland is joining the revolution of enhanced prosthetic limbs - a movement headed by designer and manufacturer Touch Bionics.

Her new arms, which can be controlled by a mobile app or her own muscles, offer 24 different grips made possible through a powered rotating thumb and a variety of wrist options that provide for more natural hand positioning.

"It feels amazing," Copeland, told USA Today. "The other [artificial] arms I had didn't feel like an extension of my body."

And while the prostheses can cost as much as $120,000 each, Touch Bionics, Copeland said, is donating them to her for free in exchange of her becoming a spokeswoman for the company.

And what does the 24-year-old dream of doing first with her new hands?

"I really want to be able to get back in the kitchen and start cooking some delicious vegetarian meals for myself," she told the news outlet.

Touch Bionic’s advanced iLimb series comes during a time when many amputees are choosing not to wear their prostheses, according to the National Institute of Health, which found that 45 percent of children with a body-powered prosthesis and 35 percent of children with an electric prosthesis opted not to wear them. These numbers were 26 and 23 percent among adults, respectively.

According to the study, the reason so many people rejected their prosthetic limb was widely variant though comfort is believed to be an issue for many.

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