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Robotic prosthetics give injured worker new hope

It is important to understand that those workers who are unfortunate enough to be involved in industrial accidents often suffer more than just back sprains, muscle pulls or neck strains. This is not to say that these types of work injuries aren't incredibly debilitating or capable of causing an injured worker considerable problems, rather it's simply a recognition of just how truly horrific and life-altering industrial accidents can be.

Take for example, the case of a western Illinois woman who suffered life-altering hand injuries while performing factory work over 15 years ago. Here, she was put to work on a punch machine despite having been on the job for only three days and receiving relatively little training, a veritable recipe for disaster.

This lack of training resulted in a horrific workplace accident that cost the woman a significant portion of the fingers on her right hand and everything but her thumb on her left hand.

Sadly, she had to be hospitalized for nearly three months after the accident and, upon her release, suffered from bouts of agoraphobia. Over the years, she learned to adjust to her new condition, but still suffered periodic bouts of pain. In fact, the pain proved bad enough that she recently decided to pay a visit to a physician.

As it turns out, however, this decision later proved to be fortuitous.

Her treating physician contacted an area representative of a company that makes advanced prosthetic devices and helped arrange for the woman to be fit for "bionic fingers" on both of her hands.

On her right hand, the lesser injured of the two, she was outfitted with extensions that fit over the stubs of her fingers and which allow them to move freely. On her left hand, the more injured of the two, she was outfitted with robotic device equipped with working mechanical fingers.

The robotic hand -- whose rather significant cost was covered by workers' compensation insurance -- runs on a long-life battery, and moves based on nerve signals sent between the wrist and thumb. Thus far, the woman has been able to lift a glass and even hold a knife to cut food.

While the woman is facing extensive occupational therapy to become accustomed to her new hands, she remains confident that she will be able to regain a full range of motion and be able to enjoy some of the activities so has missed for all these years.

Always remember, if you have suffered life-altering injuries in an industrial workers' accident, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced workers' compensation attorney to learn more about your options and your rights.

Source: The Quad-City Times, "Woman's futuristic prosthetics give her back use of both hands," Deirdre Cox Baker, September 10, 2013

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