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Loyola instilled in me that service is important, and that has been an amazing driving force for me to make sure that what we are building


will be of the most benefit to the people who need these hands.” — AADEEL AKHTAR (BS ’07, MS ’08)


Akhtar and his team have built six prototypes of their bionic hand since he began his work in 2013, each more advanced than the last. They hope to finish a seventh this winter. Of the 11 million amputees world-


wide, 80 percent live in developing nations and do not have access to ade- quate, affordable prosthetics. Most amputees use a hook because it is cheaper and not easily damaged, but its only capability is opening and clos- ing. PSYONIC’s hand allows ampu- tees to pinch and grasp, in addition to the typical open and close motions. And it can be made for one-tenth the cost of similar top-of-the-line prosthetic hands, which can sell for more than $30,000.


Akhtar’s use of inexpensive mate-


rials like silicone and rubber not only makes the hand more affordable but also more durable and humanlike. The hand utilizes highly sensitive touch sensors—the same ones found in cell phones and GPS devices— since they are readily available and inexpensive. The goal is to have the hand registered with the FDA and covered by insurance companies by the end of 2018, with a planned release to market the following year. For Juan Suquillo, PSYONIC’s


prototypehas been life changing. Suquillo lost his left hand in a war between Peru and his native Ecuador and dealt with the disability for more than 30 years. But today, he can pick


fruit and drive a car with his pros- thetic hand. It is, he said, like a part of him that was lost has returned. It’s stories like this that motivate


Akhtar to balance his growing busi- ness, medical studies, and family life; he and his wife are the parents of a two-year-old son and infant daughter. “Loyola instilled in me that service is important, and that has been an amazing driving force for me to make sure that what we are building will be of the most benefit to the peo- ple who need these hands,” Akhtar said. “There is so much of academic research that stays in academia, but I want to make sure that what I do has a lasting impact and actually benefits people.”—Maura Sullivan Hill


LEARN MORE ABOUT PSYONIC’S UNIQUE PROSTHETIC: LUC.EDU/AKHTAR


WINTER 2018 35


PHOTO BY BRIAN STAUFFER


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