A Retired Staff Sergeant’s Gift from the Alfred Mann Foundation

Alfred Mann has a background in physics and a long career designing everything from aerospace parts to bionics. His work on cardiac pacemakers eventually became a part of St. Jude Medical. He designed insulin pumps to assist in patients who require glucose devices, and he’s been at the forefront of bionics for since the 1970s.

Mann used the money he’s earned through the sale of multiple companies to start the Alfred Mann Foundation. While the organization has several core principles that guide its actions, one of its prime focuses is to help those suffering from debilitating disabilities.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant James Sides is one of those individuals. During Sides’ second tour of Afghanistan, he encountered an IED that he attempted to diffuse. The explosive device detonated close to him, a shock that sent him reeling backward and broke his forearm. The blast also claimed his right hand, which, in his words, was “shredded to the wrist”.

Although Sides made a full recovery, he desperately wanted the use of his hand again. That’s where the Alfred Mann Foundation decided to help. In partnership with Rogers and Cowan, led by Executive Vice President Steve Doctrow, they fitted Sides with a robotic hand that looks like something out of the movies. The hand can read the impulses of his muscles, sending signals to the fingertips and thumb on the mechanical arm.

Although this amazing achievement is currently limited to just seven candidates testing it, the technology will soon open up for mainstream consumption. The hope of the Alfred Mann Foundation is to solve the challenge of debilitating handicaps through the innovative use of robotics.