Ian Stevens, CEO, Touch Bionics: New Health Innovation Partnership Benefitting Scottish Patients

It is often frustrating that new, Scottish, medical technologies, whilst successful in international markets, do not find their way to Scottish patients due to sometimes lengthy regulatory approval processes and procurement rules.

Touch Bionics i-limbs, whilst now fitted to over 6,000 wearers worldwide, had until recently not been available to Scottish NHS patients.  But a new Health Innovation Partnership, facilitated by the Scottish Life Sciences Association, and enjoying Scottish Government and Regional NHS prosthetic centre approval, has so far allowed 13 Scottish patients to benefit from the latest developments in multi-articulating, bionic, prosthetic hands.

In the Glasgow (WestMarc) and Edinburgh (SMART centre) prosthetic clinics prospective i-limb wearers trial the hands for two weeks and then decide if they would like to move ahead with a permanent fitting.

Touch Bionics staff train the NHS prosthetists on all aspects of the prosthetic fitting and occupational therapy required thereafter. We are also able to provide experienced staff to assist with the fitting, or provide follow up or longer term support by phone or in person.  The joint aim is to restore functionality that may have been lost after an amputation, allowing the wearer to comfortably perform activities of daily living once again.  Commonly stated goals are to ‘be able to eat unassisted’,  ‘tie my shoelaces’ or ‘zip/button up my trousers and fasten my belt’.  These are all things which you and I take for granted but which are instrumental in providing independence in everyday living.

The latest i-limbs have electronic thumbs, a flexible wrist and stronger and faster fingers.  Different ways of gripping objects can be selected by using simple gestures to instruct the hand using our own i-mo technology.  If and when repairs are needed the Bluetooth enabled hands store all diagnostic data on the my-ilimb app, enabling rapid diagnosis and repair in our Livingston Touch Life Centre.

Because wearers, Touch Bionics and the NHS locations are all pretty close together (compared to many of our American customers!) it is proving very helpful to receive regular feedback and suggestions which are a vital part of the product development process.  In this way Touch Bionics is more able to continue to innovate and to grow the capabilities of the i-limb.  Future developments will include a new rotating wrist which will allow even greater precision and control over functionality.

Touch Bionics is proud to be assisting Scottish patients receive the very latest bionic upper limb technology.  We are committed to making this Health Innovation Partnership with the Scottish NHS a stepping-stone to the regular and permanent provision of i-limbs to deserving individuals.