05/03/2016 17:12 EDT | Updated 05/04/2017 01:12 EDT

Bionic hand developed by SFU researchers allows parathlete to 'move' fingers

BURNABY, B.C. — Danny Letain never imagined he'd be able to "feel" his fingers move again after losing part of his arm in a workplace accident 35 years ago.

But with a new bionic hand developed by researchers at Simon Fraser University, he's now able to use the remaining muscles in his stump to activate robotic fingers.

The Paralympic skier says he feels as though his hand is actually opening and closing, and he hopes eventually the device can be developed for daily use.

In October, Letain will wear the prosthesis in Switzerland at the inaugural Cybathlon event, an international competition for people with disabilities using robotic technology.

He'll be the only Canadian competing in an obstacle course for people with powered-arm prostheses to perform everyday tasks like slicing bread and opening jars.

SFU team leader Lukas-Karim Merhi says the device differs from other robotic prostheses in that it's more intuitive and allows the wearer to use their muscles naturally to move the hand.

The Canadian Press