Development of a prototype over-actuated biomimetic prosthetic hand

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 19;10(3):e0118817. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118817. eCollection 2015.


The loss of a hand can greatly affect quality of life. A prosthetic device that can mimic normal hand function is very important to physical and mental recuperation after hand amputation, but the currently available prosthetics do not fully meet the needs of the amputee community. Most prosthetic hands are not dexterous enough to grasp a variety of shaped objects, and those that are tend to be heavy, leading to discomfort while wearing the device. In order to attempt to better simulate human hand function, a dexterous hand was developed that uses an over-actuated mechanism to form grasp shape using intrinsic joint mounted motors in addition to a finger tendon to produce large flexion force for a tight grip. This novel actuation method allows the hand to use small actuators for grip shape formation, and the tendon to produce high grip strength. The hand was capable of producing fingertip flexion force suitable for most activities of daily living. In addition, it was able to produce a range of grasp shapes with natural, independent finger motion, and appearance similar to that of a human hand. The hand also had a mass distribution more similar to a natural forearm and hand compared to contemporary prosthetics due to the more proximal location of the heavier components of the system. This paper describes the design of the hand and controller, as well as the test results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biomimetic Materials*
  • Hand / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Prosthesis Design / methods*

Grant support

Funding from Kate Gleason Foundation endowed chair funds. Wayne Walter (last author) was the Kate Gleason endowed chair at the time the work was done and assisted in data analysis and manuscript preparation. The funding foundation was not directly involved in the work. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.