Those of us who grew up in the era of The Six-Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and RoboCop, might be especially interested in this story. A man in China built himself a pair of bionic arms that allow him to live his life normally day to day.
51-year-old Sun Jifa lost both of his hands when a homemade bomb went off by accident. The explosive device was intended for use in blast fishing. Sun could not afford the prosthetic limbs available through the hospital. Without hands, the resident of Guanmashan, Jilin province, in northern China was unable to participate in the work on his family farm, so he set out to build a pair for himself. This mission eventually took him eight years and numerous prototypes.
The final version of Sun’s design includes steel hands that are able to grip, hold, and squeeze. The mechanism works through a series of pulleys and wires within a metal shell that attaches at the elbow.
“I control them with movements from my elbows and I can work, love normally and feed myself just like anyone else,” he says. “The only drawback is that steel is quite heavy so they’re tiring to wear and get hot or cold in the extremes of summer and winter.”
Sun crafted his bionic arms out of cast off scrap metal, so they cost next to nothing. Moving forward he plans to keep working on the design in order to help people in similar situations, those in desperate need, but without the necessary resources to purchase the expensive prosthetics manufactured by medical companies.