By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Bionic hands might look like something out of a sci-fi movie. But the breakthrough technology is turning lives around. Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl is On Your Side with details.

About 45 people a day in the United States experience a partial hand amputation. They lose some or all of their fingers. There wasn’t much doctors could do for them with prosthetics. Now, there’s a new advance for hand amputees that are now available in Philadelphia.

Picking up a water bottle is something 23-year-old Colby Helfrich couldn’t do with his left hand a short time ago.

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“I was hit by a train as a pedestrian, and my hand got cut off by going underneath the train,” said Colby. He lost four fingers. But now life is getting better thanks to his new electric fingers. He’s the fourth man in the world to use the new finger technology.

“I think they’re great so far. I mean I’m able to carry heavy things, bags that are pretty heavy I can carry easily,” said Colby.

Ryan Spill, with Advanced Arm Dynamics, is now offering the bionic hand and fingers to patients in Philadelphia.

“When the patient grabs something round for example and one of the fingers sustains some resistance, the other fingers will continue to close, so he has a much more intimate grasp on an object,” said Ryan.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Ramon Padilla is benefiting from the new bionic myoelectric hand, after losing part of his arm and hand while serving in Afghanistan.

“I’m able to use the whole hand. I’m able to use the fingers. It feels good. It feels like I have an actual hand there,” said Ramon.

Inside the prosthetic there are programmed electrodes. When the patient moves different arm muscles that signals the prosthetic to open or close.

Ramon is now able to use a computer mouse even pick up an apple. It’s helping the most with his grip.

“I’m not afraid to hold my kids hand. I’m not afraid to hug them. I’m not afraid to grab and squeeze something without knowing I might break it if I squeeze to hard,” said Ramon.

The technology costs between $65,000 and $75,000, but is covered by most insurance companies.

For more information on Advanced Arm Dynamics, click here.

Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS3

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