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MoH-level Valor Leads to a Robot Hand

by Ward Carroll on January 27, 2012

I had a chance to sit down with Medal of Honor recipient SFC Leroy Petry a couple of days ago while participating in the AFCEA West 2012 conference in San Diego.  Like all who’ve received the nation’s highest award for valor, his story of courage under fire is amazing.  (Read more about him in Military.com’s headlines here.)

Petry lost his right hand when the enemy grenade he was throwing away from his fellow Rangers went off right as he released it.  After an extended convalesence and many hours of rehab, he was offered a range of prosthetic options.  While many amputees prefer the age-old hook because of its superior gripping power, Petry decided to go high-tech.  He selected the Touch Bionics iLimb Pulse.

From the article at Military​.com:

The iLimb Pulse basically has two parts: the robotic hand and the sleeve that slips over the forearm. Sensors within the sleeve pick up muscle movement near the surface of the forearm, which in turn programs the digits in the robotic hand to move.

“It basically runs off the same muscles you’d use to open and close your hand,” Petry explains. The robotic hand also rotates 360-degrees at the wrist, which comes in handy when trying to reach things in out-of-the-way places.

Petry recently upgraded from the Pulse to the iLimb Ultra, which has better tuned micro-motors and more titanium components. He also can replace the hand with an array of attachments including tools or cutlery.

“I never golfed until they told me they had a golf attachment,” he says. “Now I love the sport.”

And as an added feature, Petry had a special placard attached to his base plate with all the names of the Army Rangers from the Second Ranger Battalion who had been killed in combat since Operation Urgent Fury in 1984. “It reminds me that men are still out there fighting,” he says pointing to the placard. “Hopefully, it doesn’t have to get any bigger.”

(Photo — SFC Leroy Petry’s Touch Bionics iLimb Ultra — with memorial placard to fallen Army Rangers.)

– Ward

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