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Who in Russia creates bionic prostheses, what users are saying about them and how to buy them with state funds

Russian developments sometimes do not differ from foreign ones and are ten times more expensive. Sometimes they can be obtained free of charge.

In Russia, annually from 40 thousand to a million people (according to various estimates) need prosthetic hands and feet. The patient has a choice: to buy a cosmetic prosthesis, which in fact does not help at all in everyday life, but simply masks the injury, or functional – work, traction or bionic.

With the help of functional prostheses, you can type on a computer, use a smartphone and other gadgets, cook, ride a bike and scooters, hold a mug.  presents a brief insight into the world of prosthetics in Russia.

Who in Russia produces bionic prostheses

Russian patients do not have the largest selection of domestic bionic prostheses. So far, only two Russian companies, Motorika and MaxBionic, produce such products on a permanent basis.

The company “Motorika” was registered in 2015. Its CEO, Ilya Chekh, in 2013, began to lead the team to create prosthetic hands, and at first she worked on products for children. In 2017, Motorika presented its first bionic prosthesis called Stradivari. The company is now a resident of Skolkovo, received a grant from the Innovation Promotion Fund and is preparing to release a batch of children’s bionic prostheses in July.

Bionic prostheses work as follows: electrodes installed in a cult-receiving tube read out electrical potential from the stump muscles. Sensors transmit information to the microprocessor, and that transforms it into motor commands. Usually, when a muscle is strained, the prosthesis makes a grasping movement, and when it is relaxed, there is a release.

“Stradivarius” looks like a cosmetic prosthesis, but it is able to make a hold, and you can also add additional functions to it – for example, with the help of a prosthesis, you can pay for purchases through PayPass. A black-and-white display can also be built into the bionic arm to track the charge level, date, time, and prosthesis control mode.Such a prosthesis costs 390 thousand rubles..

Co-founder Ilya Chekh told that the company had sold 50 such products in total. There are plans to integrate Wi-Fi into the bionic arm through a connection to 4G networks, and they also want to make the display touch-sensitive so that the user can view social networks and mail.

Video demonstration of the prosthesis “Stradivarius”

MaxBionic prosthesis – MeHandS – costs 14 thousand dollarsand really looks like a robot hand. People with such prostheses are called “cyborg”. In 2014, the company was founded by Timur Sayfutdinov and Maxim Lyashko. The idea came after Lyashko lost a hand in production when he worked as an engineer in Norilsk. In February 2017, the company assembled the first bionic prosthesis.

MeHandS produces exactly the brush – third-party prosthetists collect the liner. This is a multi-graft prosthesis – fingers can move separately and take objects in several ways. In February 2017, the company assembled the first prosthesis. In two years, Maxbionic released 15 brushes. Motorika is also working on creating a similar prototype. The company’s website states that pilot tests began in 2019.

As co-founder of MaxBionic Timur Saifutdinov told , it is not entirely correct to call such prostheses bionic.

Bionic can be called any prosthesis, because the term bionic implies that the prosthesis copies the living. And if we look at any prosthesis, they all repeat the human brush in one way or another.Timur Saifutdinovco-founder of MaxBionic

In one of the interviews, Cech said that at one time Energia rocket and space corporation was interested in developing bionic prostheses, but in the end the prototype never appeared on the market.

In 2014, scientists from the Polytechnic Institute and the Turner Institute presented a prototype of a bionic arm called the Elegant Hand , but it is not known how the project developed further.

What is the difference between foreign and Russian bionics?

In the Russian market there are foreign prostheses of i-Limb, Touch Bionics, Ottobock (the most famous models are Michelangelo, Bebionic) and Vincent System (Vincent de). There is more choice among foreign models, but their price is several times higher, or even tens. For comparison -Bebionic German bionic prosthesis of forearmcosts from 2 million rubles, and i-Limb bionic brush is sold on Ebay for 40 thousand dollars.

In the series “ Tolya-Robot ”, the first season of which was recently released on TNT, the protagonist who received a prosthesis from the state uses exactly Bebionic prostheses. The double of Alexander Pal, who played Tolya, was one of the most famous “cyborg people” Konstantin Deblikov. He also uses Bebionic prostheses, and it was his prostheses that were removed close-up when the hero performed various actions by him: opening a can or breaking an egg.

The hero of the series “Tolya-Robot” uses Bebionic prostheses. They are also used by doubler Alexander Palya, who performed the role of Toli

In Bebionic there are 14 types of capture: for example, it is possible to use a computer mouse, and even pinching. Brush movements, grip strength and speed can be adjusted. To create an even more expensive Michelangelo bionic brush, special materials were used that mimic the muscles, joints and bones – so the movements of the prosthesis look more natural.

Promo video prosthesis Bebionic

However, Sayfutdinov from MaxBionic claims that competitor’s statements about 14 types of captures are a marketing trick.

The number of grabs they are talking about is the programmed number. He has 14 available grabs and 3 of them are active. That is, the three user is controlled. And in order to use the rest, he must reprogram [the prosthesis]. Everyone has an application in which you can put the necessary parameters and gestures. In terms of this, we [MaxBionic] are not at all limited in the number of gestures as you want, download as much.Timur Saifutdinovco-founder of MaxBionic

MaxBionic, says Saifutdinov, adjusts the characteristics of the prosthesis specifically for each client. In addition, the prosthesis has a modal control type. If the user is involved in sports, the sensors reduce sensitivity to prevent false alarms, and a wide tongue is activated. And if you need to do something delicate, then the sensors increase sensitivity, speed increases and the mode is activated, in which speed and force are controlled from the level of muscle tension.

According to Sayfutdinov, the cost of foreign prostheses is due to reliability: manufacturers promise that it will last more than two years and will be able to withstand a greater load. For example, Bebionic can withstand weight up to 45 kilograms.

In 2019, the British company Open Bionics presented its prototype to an eight-year-old child – the first one printed on a 3D printer and passed clinical trials. Such a prosthesis will cost about 5 thousand pounds, that is almost 7 thousand dollars. The site Open Bionics states that the prosthesis can withstand up to 8 pounds.

If you take a load of more than 5 kilograms with Open Bionics prosthesis, it will crumble. 3D printing cannot be compared with professional dentures. And clinics do not put such prostheses, because they are afraid to be responsible for these products.

Timur Saifutdinov co-founder of MaxBionic

If the Russian user needs a prosthesis of the lower limb, then there are no domestic alternatives for him: neither Motorika nor MaxBionic produce them. The site “Motoriki” states that the company is going to create a prosthetic leg only in five years.

The development of the hand itself is less problematic from the point of view of medicine and public health. When developing the lower limbs there is a chance that your semi-finished product will break, and the person will hurt not only the stump, but also the hip when it falls. These are big risks and big responsibility.

Timur Saifutdinov co-founder of MaxBionic

Saifutdinov added that in the manufacture of lower limb prostheses, more professional equipment is required in order to know the human biomechanics and explore the possibilities of striding, running and various activities.

At the same time, according to MaxBionic studies, 1.4 million people live in Russia with amputations, and only 10% of them need upper limb prostheses. According to the “Motorics”, 40 thousand Russians need upper limb prostheses.

Do users like domestic development

Donetsk resident Valentina has no part of her arm below the elbow since birth. She never wore prostheses, but after moving out of the city in 2014, she first heard about bionic prostheses and contacted MaxBionic.

We just talked and forgot about each other. Then I moved to St. Petersburg and was preparing to cross the Bosphorus, I had an active social life. I think they [MaxBionic] paid attention to this and suggested that I take part in testing the prosthesis.

Valentina Lauk bionic prosthesis user

Valentina recalls that at first she, together with the developers, tried to understand whether she could even manage the prosthesis at all. Saifutdinov confirmed to that sometimes there really are cases when the muscles are atrophied and the prosthesis simply cannot fix and transmit impulses. This can happen if a person is not involved in sports and physical activity at all. But this situation is fixable, if the user will develop the muscles. The co-founder of Motorika, Ilya Chekh, told that any person can use the bionic prosthesis.

Valentina Lauk

Valentina has been using the prosthesis since 2017, but only for the last couple of months – regularly. Previously, it was periodically necessary to give it to the office of the company in order to change individual settings. Now Valentine is testing the third brush. After the test, MeHandS will remain with her.

You need to understand that this [prosthesis] will not replace a living arm. But self-perception is changing for the better. I treat this as a gadget. This is part of my style and image.

These are new opportunities and acquaintances: I visit various forums where I communicate with interesting people.

Valentina Lauk bionic prosthesis user

The girl notes that her prosthesis is constantly interested in: passersby ask questions and sometimes ask to be photographed. She believes that such attention is much more pleasant than when people just feel sorry for a person without a hand.

Valentina explains that sometimes she has a feeling that the “iron hand” only hinders. Especially if you need to do something quickly. But that is the workout: you need to use the prosthesis as often as possible and get used to it.

The current version of the development, which Valentina is testing, has a lot of tugs, but for the girl they have left only two, the most convenient ones.

We do not notice with a living hand how we change the grip, because we do it unconsciously. In the prosthesis, you control the muscles, when [in the product] there are many grips, movements take longer. For example, you need to take a cup now, and you are instead showing the middle finger.

Valentina Laukbionic prosthesis user

St. Petersburg woman and designer Katya Kryuk, who creates clothes under the Total Kryuk brand, bought a bionic prosthesis “Stradivarius” about 350 thousand rubles about a month ago and is now waiting for the state to compensate this money.

Katya wore a cosmetic prosthesis. She told that she was only putting on a new design at home. But she has a lot of work, she often travels, and therefore it is far from every day she can use it. The girl added that while the appearance of the prosthesis suits her not so much that she can go out with him somewhere and go for a walk.

Katya Kryuk with the Stradivari prosthesis Official group “Motoriki” in VKontakte

I’m trying to train with him now. In principle, it is heavier than cosmetic, so it is already training the muscles on their own. I tried to cook, they can take something, but I still have difficulty with the level of compression.

Katya Hook bionic prosthesis user

Another client of “Motorika” Alexandra regularly records videos about the advantages of prostheses. For example, she tells how the Stradivarius is convenient for her and shows how she made a cake with his help .

In “Motorika” told that the first stage of rehabilitation passes before the installation of the prosthesis – in virtual reality. With the help of the Attilan rehabilitation platform, the client can, in a game format, train the muscles that control the prosthesis. A person gets on a spacecraft, where he shoots a bow, moves objects, goes into outer space – so he begins to understand how his muscles work.

After that, the user trains with the ergotherapist, communicates with the psychologist, performs the tasks of a rehabilitation therapist, in order to consolidate the skill of managing the prosthesis. “The most difficult thing is to motivate a person for regular training,” concludes Anastasia Sadovskaya, PR manager of Motorika.

Russians can be compensated for the entire cost of the prosthesis or part. But you have to fight for it.

According to the law, Russians can buy prostheses for state money in several ways. First, you can apply to the Social Security Fund (FSS): the organization will announce the auction, and the winning company will make a prosthesis for the patient. True, it is difficult to predict who will win the tender and what the applicant will receive for the prosthesis. Perhaps it will not be the product of the brand that he wanted.

You can buy a prosthesis at your own expense, like Katya Kryuk, and request compensation from the state. However, Kate told that she still does not know how much money she will get back. In general, the level of compensation depends on the region and on the type of product: according to the FSS website,in Petersburg for a bionic prosthesis of the forearm can compensate up to 1 million rubles, and in the Kirov region – only up to 488 thousand rubles. In either case, a person who wants to receive a prosthesis needs to apply for an Individual Rehabilitation Program (IPR), obtain a medical-technical opinion and undergo a service of medical and social expertise (ITU).

According to Sayfutdinov, sometimes users manage to compensate the amount for MeHandS completely, sometimes – only 4-6 thousand dollars.

The ITU should write the conclusion that the user needs exactly the prosthesis that he is asking for. Here the fun begins. ITU says: “You don’t need such a prosthesis, you have enough cosmetic.” Evasion begins, so that the user agrees to what they give in this way: “If you disagree now, you will have nothing at all.” Users usually get scared and agree on what they are offered.

Timur Saifutdinov co-founder of MaxBionic

A resident of Arkhangelsk, Svetlana Churakova, said that it took her about two years to achieve a modern i-Limb prosthesis from the state. Officials dissuaded her, explaining that the prosthesis was too heavy. In 2018, Churakova became theHonored Master of Sports.

Representatives of Motorika explained to that in the case of their prostheses, the state usually covers the entire cost. In addition, it usually takes only three months, on average, from the time of the call to the prosthesis of the company. After the launch of children’s bionic prostheses, “Motorika” will help residents of the regions to get them for free.

Konstantin Deblikov, who played in the series “Tolya-Robot”, in one of his interviews said that for a good prosthesis in Russia “you need to fight.” He noted that obtaining the desired product could take a year. First you need to get the necessary conclusion from the ITU, and if it does not suit the user, it will take some more time to challenge him. And then you have to ensure that the Social Security Fund considers the application. Ultimately, the outcome of the situation depends on the requirements of the user, and on the ability to defend their rights.

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