‘IKO’, a Lego-enabled prosthetic arm has been specially designed to boost the confidence of small children who are compelled to live with artificial limbs.
One of the biggest challenges faced by child amputees is the uncomfortable feeling which they experience while they interact with other kids who are not much acquainted with the technology. Otherwise, small kids easily get adapted to using the prosthetic limbs.
Now, Carlos Arturo Torres Tovar and his team from Umeå University in Sweden, have designed an innovative prosthetic arm that is compatible with the Lego. This new prosthetic arm would not only serve as an awesome toy which the wearer and their friends can play with, but it would also help in boosting the confidence of the small children when interacting with their peer group.
The product, IKO, is similar to a regular prosthetic arm with the difference in its design which allows the wearer to assemble it with much ease. The arm features a ‘twist and lost’ modular design that is accompanied with a motorized adapter and a regular three finger hand that can be swapped with the customized Lego attachments, which makes it more attractive to kids.
Further, the designer group also mention in their website that,
“IKO is a creative prosthetic system designed for children to explore and empower their creativity in a playful, social, and friendly way. What if kids could use their imagination to create their own tools according to their own needs? What if kids could make their own prosthetics and have fun at the same time? Learning. Creating. Being kids.”
In this new prosthetic limb the kids can change the gripping attachments with their own customized Lego designs.
As per a report in Gizmodo, the Lego attachment in the prosthetic limb can be manipulated and it sort of gives the kid a direct access to Lego Mindstorms, which is a series of kits which provides the software and hardware that is required to create customized robots.
The report further also reads: “But movement isn’t essential to the usefulness of the IKO. Kids love Lego because it helps them realise whatever they can imagine, and even if the laser blaster they’ve attached to the end of the arm doesn’t fire, in a child’s mind they will still feel like a super hero.”
The basic idea here it to help children view their prosthetic arm as one of the toys and thus help them overcome the feelings of awkwardness that accompanies when they wear an artificial limb, said Carlos.
This isn’t the first time Lego has been used to build a prosthetic. Earlier, Lego was used to build a prosthetic leg for Christina Stephens, who met with an accident when she was rebuilding a car which fell and crushed her lower leg and foot, which had to be amputated.
An occupational therapist and clinical researcher, Ms Stephens is based in St. Louis, Missouri and she decided to build the toy leg when the idea was put forward by one of a co-worker. While speaking to ABC News she said: “I liked the idea, because I am very comfortable with my body and like encouraging others to be more comfortable with theirs.”
The prototype of this novel prosthetic arm was tested on a eight year old boy called Dario who was born with a malformed arm which had to be amputated shortly after his birth. The attached video clearly shows how happy Dario is to use the custom-made robot hand.
The product is still under developmental stages and if the team gets the required funding, the technology would be made available to all the disabled kids across the globe. As of now the designers have not given any clue as to till when the product would be ready for sale. However, they have plans to convert this product into a commercial one.