HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
It's the first of its kind in Hawaii -- an Army veteran who lost three limbs has a new bionic hand.
Sgt. Hilario Bermanis -- or H-B, as he prefers to be called -- is a triple amputee who was just outfitted with a state of the art bionic hand on Tuesday.
"It can do many stuff. Just helping me," said Bermanis, who was selected as the first in the state to receive his particular model.
Bermanis can control motions with a phone app or through electrodes inside the prosthetic that pick up signals from his muscles. His new bionic hand is capable of 24 different grip functions.
'It's incredible. It is so much better than my last one," Bermanis said, as he displayed how he's now able to pick up a water bottle or rip open a bag of candy.
"It's changing lives, positively, this is a new program that the VA started a year ago, manufacturing prosthetics here in Honolulu and he's the first to receive this technology," said Herb Niehuus, a VA prosthetist working with Bermanis.
Officials say ever since the Veterans Administration of Hawai'i started making the bionic limbs in-house instead of buying them from private companies, it has cut costs by about 50% per device. They cast, measure, fit, design and adjust everything right here at home.
"The technology is really advancing. It's constantly getting better and better. In a few years, we're going to follow up care with HB and if there's a better hand out there for him -- we'll see if we can provide that for him," said Niehuus.
Bermanis says this latest prosthetic is lightyears ahead of his last one. His doctor's say he's already proven a quick study with his new bionic hand.
"Just in the last few days he's already learned ten new functions for this hand -- and he's teaching himself too, which is amazing. He's new at it, but he's already pro," said Niehuus.
HB says he's determined to learn as much as he can, but he's already mastered picking up something as tiny as an M&M -- but his favorite move so far...
"I can do a shaka," said Bermanis said with a big smile.
Right now, HB's focusing on mastering his new hand, but when he's ready his doctors say they'll start working on his legs if that's what he wants.