Mechanical hands give teen new hope

Western Cape, August 13 - Flippie Engelbrecht lost his hands in a fire following an epileptic fit, caused by the injuries he suffered in a farm assault. Inventor Richard Van As is giving the 19-year-old a new life with his Robohands design. Video: eNCA

It's a day Flippie Engelbrecht has been waiting for - being measured for a brand new pair of hands.

Engelbrecht, 19, who became blind after allegedly being assaulted by his farm employers, damaged his hands after falling into an open fire during a seizure brought on by his injuries. Doctors were forced to amputate his hands.

But now, thanks inventor Richard Van As, Flippie Engelbrecht is getting a second chance. Van As, a carpenter who lost four fingers, was prompted by his own injuries to design Robohand. 

"The easiest way to describe this is as anatomically driven. There's no electronics, there's no batteries ... I've never charged anybody for it. But basically the materials for the hand and the arm is about fifteen thousand rand," Van As said.

Engelbrecht will be able to grasp objects immediately, but it will take time to develop fine motor skills like holding utensils

Engelbrecht described his excitement at the new prosthetics: "I can now help myself now that that I'm getting new hands. I can use the bathroom by myself. I can hold my own plate. I can dish my own food. So I'm feeling good." 

The new hands will be ready within a few days.


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