Specifically, the hand would be attached through electrodes connected to the median and ulnar nerves, two of the main nerves in the human arm, Silvestro Micera, head of the Translational Neural Engineering Laboratory of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, explained. The surgery would let the man communicate with his bionic hand — moving it by thinking and then recieving touch signals in response.
If successful, the procedure would be a breakthrough in creating sensitive prosthetics for amputees.
"This is real progress, real hope for amputees," Micera said at a meeting on Sunday of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, according to The Independent. "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."
A 2009 version of the hand was attached to a man named Pierpaolo Petruzziello who had lost half of his arm in a car accident. But that model had only two sensory zones. The newer version has been refined to provide sensation from all fingertips as well as the palm and wrists, Micera said.
Petruzziello is the same person slated to receive the new version of the hand this year, according to Wired.
The process faces a couple of challenges. Can the man comfortably wear the bionic hand all the time or will he need to to remove it periodically? And where and how will doctors hide all of the necessary wiring?
The patient will wear the hand for a month to see how it fares. If the bionic hand fulfills its promise, Micera sees a working model becoming available for testing within two years.
Story Source: The above story is reprinted from materials provided by CNET News. The original article was written by Lance Whitney. IMAGE Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne