Re: An inflationary universe
Price point is a serious problem with prosthetics. The much touted and very effective micro-processor knees for above knee amputees aren't cheap. They start about $30,000 (US) and go up. Add in a socket (the part that fits on the stump) $10,000 +, oh. and the foot. Those start at about $2000. The knees last for about 5 years, the sockets anywhere from 1 to 3 years depending on the activity level and weight of the amputee. The feet... about the same as the knee. Recurring costs and even though these things have been around for quite a few years, the costs are still going up. There's a maintenance cost (they require being sent back to the factory every other year for overhaul) and this is borne not just by the manufacturer, but also by the prosthetics shop that makes the leg for the amputee.
I shudder to think what this hand/arm would cost even they can drop the cost. You still have the costs of the people putting it together, the training, etc.
I'll add this since many don't know, but building prosthetics for people is just as much an art as it is a science to get the limb comfortable and usable. Technology can only go so far in this as far as componentry and methods. The usability still comes down to the practitioner's knowledge, experience, and willingness to problem solve. Every amputee is different.
Insurance companies don't like these "improvements" for obvious reasons as it costs them money thus they still class all these microprocessor knees as "experimental" and for the amputee to get first one is usually a battle royal. After they have one, it's fairly easy to get a replacement but that battle for the first one puts a lot of amputees off.
I'm not an amputee or a practitioner, my wife is an amputee. I've had to learn a lot to support her leg and problem solve. Given what I've had to learn to help her, yeah... if I could make the investment in equipment (figure about $25,000 for basic things like a pizza oven, vacuum pumps, computer tools, etc.) and find a supplier willing to sell to someone other than "accredited shop", I probably could do the building and all the adjustments. But, that ain't gonna' happen. Most spouses/significant others have little clue about how to do this but I've had to learn. When a part breaks on a Sunday and the practioner is out of the office on vacation the next week, getting her walking becomes a priority and the learning curve can be a real bitch.