The Lookout

Woman who lost limbs to flesh-eating bacteria gets bionic hands

Aimee Copeland, the woman who lost her hands, one leg and her other foot to flesh-eating bacteria after a zip-line accident last year, spoke with WXIA.com and "Today" about her new bionic hands, which are helping her return to a normal life.

Copeland, 24, is in the process of learning to use two state-of-the art prosthetic hands called iLimbs. A fast learner, she has the basics down and says she is looking forward to using them for more advanced tasks like driving, according to WXIA.

The site also reports that Copeland's prosthetic hands are among the most advanced available and cost $100,000 each. She received them for free because she's agreed to be a spokesperson for Touch Bionics, maker of iLimb, according to Today.com. Robert Kistenberg of Georgia Tech is helping Copeland learn how to use the iLimbs. Via Today.com:

Over time, Copeland is learning how to control her hands by flexing and contracting the muscles in her residual limbs. In time, she’ll learn not only how to move the hands and their fingers but also how to modulate how hard they grip.

"Each time we flex or contract a muscle, there is a chemical and an electrical reaction," Kistenberg explained to TODAY.com. "That electrical signal is very, very slight," he said. "But our electrodes are sensitive enough to pick it up through the skin."

The iLimb Ultra Revelation hands can be programmed and configured via an iPhone or iPod app using Bluetooth. But Aimee's limbs are still controlled by her muscles.

Copeland told WXIA.com that the new hands "feel amazing."

Copeland is working on completing her master's degree in psychology at the University of West Georgia. In an interview with the Augusta Chronicle earlier this month, Copeland explained how she's been able to stay so positive in the face of such a drastic change.

“I had the philosophy that in life we can’t really say what’s good and what’s bad. You can’t place a value on it,” she told the Augusta Chronicle. “What seems terrible now could seem great later.”

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