A Swedish woman, aged 50, who experienced a hand loss due to an agricultural mishap, has now been equipped with an advanced prosthetic device, proving to be a game-changer for her.
This bionic hand employs groundbreaking tech that establishes a direct link with the user’s bones, muscles, and nerves. This paves the way for AI to decipher neural impulses and convert them into accurate, straightforward motions.
The recipient of this bionic marvel, identified as Karin (full name not revealed), can now discern subtle tactile sensations and boasts a 95% success rate when maneuvering each of her bionic digits independently.
Having spent 20 years without her right hand, she’s now able to perform approximately 80% of routine daily tasks like making meals, grasping items, managing zippers on garments or bags, and handling doorknobs or turning screws.
Intriguingly, post the fitting of the artificial hand, the severe phantom pain that Karin described akin to her hand being crushed, notably diminished. The global collective of engineers behind this technological marvel divulged details of Karin’s journey in the publication Science Robotics.
With members from Sweden, Italy, and Australia, this research team highlights that it’s a pioneering instance of a robotic hand with internal electrodes effectively serving individuals with amputations below the elbow.
When the prosthesis was first introduced to Karin three years prior, it was deemed a singular innovation. Contrarily, the majority of available prostheses incorporated external sensory electrodes just beneath the robotic ‘skin’.
Traditional methods, however, compromise the intensity and clarity of sensory transmissions between the user and the prosthetic hand, an issue persisting since the inception of prosthetic tech about six decades ago.
In recent years, Ortiz Catalán has been striving to perfect a method based on ‘osseointegration’, where the bone cells envelop any inserted implant. By fusing this method with reconstructive medical procedures, Ortiz Catalán believes in the fusion of biological and electronic systems.
Karin’s prosthesis was facilitated by embedding two implants into her ulna and radius bones. A muscle segment from her thigh was then linked to these, offering a foundation for the muscles and nerves in Karin’s residual limb to reconnect.
Crucially, these muscle grafts also housed electrodes to enhance signals directed at the interface. With the prosthesis being directly anchored to the bone, it provides a more ergonomic fit than traditional ‘ball-and-socket’ alternatives.
Furthermore, the positioning of sensory electrodes internally within the robotic hand assures persistent and dependable neural feedback. When juxtaposed with standard prosthetic devices, this innovative tech amplifies Karin’s gripping precision nearly four times.
Dubbed the “Mia Hand”, this prosthetic creation stems from the Italian firm, Prensilia, a connoisseur in robotic and biomedical gadgets, with financial backing from the European Commission. Presently, Ortiz Catalán is extending his expertise to amputees in the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.