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I am Iron Man: Prosthetics make children feel like superheroes

August 23, 2019
I am Iron Man: Prosthetics make children feel like superheroes

Photo: Bioniks website

Bioniks is an organisation based in Karachi that makes unique 3D-printed bionic prosthetic limbs.

The organisation builds special superhero-themed prosthetic arms for children with physical disabilities. The masterminds behind the initiative are mechatronic engineers Ovais Hussain and Anas Riaz. Hussain and Riaz were on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Friday to talk about their organisation’s work so far.

“Bioniks works on brain-controlled prosthetics. The difference between conventional prosthetics and brain-controlled ones is that the conventional ones are heavier. Their weight is around 1.5 to 2kg. Whereas Bioniks prosthetics weigh 500 grams,” explained Hussain.

The prosthetics receive signals from brain waves and move accordingly. They allow the wearer to move their hands in all directions and grip and hold items. The artificial limbs function like normal arms and have helped not only young children but also many adults. More than 30 people have benefitted from the technology so far, said the founders.

Children such as five-year-old Mir Bayan Baloch and seven-year-old Mustafa support prosthetic arms that were designed to look like Marvel superhero Iron Man’s arms.

Mir Bayan Baloch with an Iron Man arm. Photo: Bioniks Instagram

“When he got the Iron Man arm he was very happy. He feels like a superhero,” Mustafa’s father Ali told SAMAA TV. “We went to a party and all the kids wanted an arm like his. Mustafa doesn’t use this as an arm but more like a toy.”

His father added that the arm allowed Mustafa to use television remotes, drink, eat and open doors on his own. Right now, the technology focuses on people who have had below-the-elbow amputations and provides hand and arm solutions only. Riaz explained that it was for patients who have an elbow joint.

“Bioniks has been self-sustaining for three years. We have helped people in Pakistan and many from Dubai even came here just to buy the prosthetics,” Riaz said.

Comparing the price of their technology to that available internationally, he said it was much cheaper. The cost of a prosthetic device worldwide was around $10,000, whereas theirs cost $2,000. However, its price, upwards of Rs300,000, is still not feasible for poorer patients.

“We don’t refuse any non-affording patients. We take their details and forward them to NGOs and charitable organisations that can help them meet the costs,” said Riaz.

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prosthetic limbs, prosthetic arms, Iron Man prosthetic limbs, Prosthetics Pakistan, Bioniks, technology for disabled people, limb amputation, superheroes
 
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