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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Robotics Channel
Reported February 19, 2013

The Bionic Woman Never Had a Hand This Good!


(Ivanhoe Newswire) – Losing a body part changes a person’s entire life, and when that missing part happens to be a hand, prosthetics may not come close to returning a sense of normalcy. A Swiss study is hoping to change that by creating a new kind of prosthetic that is not only more versatile, but can also improve sensory feedback so that one day amputees may even regain their sense of touch. 
"We could be on the cusp of providing new and more effective clinical solutions to amputees in the next years,” researcher Silvestro Micera from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland was quoted as saying. 
In order to create a prosthetic like never before, researchers implanted intraneural electrodes into the median and ulnar nerves of an amputee which caused different kinds of touch sensations by stimulating the sensory peripheral system. The motor neural signals in the nerves were tracked by researchers who then extracted the signal related to the motion of grasping. 
Once the information for grasping was isolated, a prosthetic hand was placed next to the amputee and the various motor neural signals were used to move and control the prosthesis. 
Although these results are very exciting, researchers plan to continue their work and actually attach the prosthetic hand to the amputee and hopefully give them bidirectional control through the use of peripheral neural signals. 
The next trial is already planned to take place and will be included in the Italian Ministry of Health's NEMESIS project. 
While results of the new trial are still yet to be seen, if all goes well amputees are looking at a brighter and more dexterous future. 
Source: 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


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