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Bionic hand will allow Italian amputee to actually feel

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 20th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It's something out of the science-fiction series "The Six Million Dollar Man." Researchers say that an Italian man, who lost part of his arm in an accident while still in his twenties, will soon be the recipient of a bionic hand - that will allow him to actually feel what he is touching.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists say that the new system should let the recipient control the hand with his thoughts while at the same time receive signals back to his brain from the hand's sensors.

The hand will be transplanted onto the man later this year. The hand will be attached, via electrodes clipped on to two of his main nerves, directly to his nervous system.

By all accounts he should feel like he is in possession of a fully functioning hand.

Dr. Silvestro Micera, of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, revealed details of the planned pioneering surgery at an American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston.

"This is real progress, real hope for amputees. It will be the first prosthetic that will provide real-time sensory feedback for grasping," Micera says.

"This is real progress, real hope for amputees. It will be the first prosthetic that will provide real-time sensory feedback for grasping.

"It is clear that the more sensory feeling an amputee has, the more likely you will get full acceptance of that limb.

"We could be on the cusp of providing new and more effective clinical solutions to amputees in the next year.

The hand was initially developed by a spinoff of the Italy's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, where scientists have worked for more than two decades to develop a new generation of hand prostheses.

"The idea would be that it could deliver two or more sensations. You could have a pinch and receive information from three fingers, or feel movement in the hand and wrist.

"We have refined the interface (connecting the hand to the patient), so we hope to see much more detailed movement and control of the hand."

If successful, fully working models could be available for amputees across the world within the next year.

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