Published: Fri, January 05, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Revolutionary bionic hand brings back woman's ability to touch and 'feel'

Revolutionary bionic hand brings back woman's ability to touch and 'feel'

The recipient, Almerina Mascarello, who lost her left hand in an accident nearly a quarter of a century ago, said that it was almost like having her hand back.

Almerina Mascarello, who lost her hand in 1993 when it was crushed by a press in the industrial factory she was working in, was fitted with the prosthetic as part of a six-month experiment at Rome's Policlinico Gemelli hospital in June 2016. A group of researchers from Rome have unveiled the first bionic hand that restores the sense of touch and is compact enough to be worn outside a laboratory, according to a BBC report. Maskarelo, even with closed eyes, may feel if she grabs something soft or hard with her artificial hand.

"I was flicking through a magazine on invalidity when I noticed a page asking people to undergo a test for prosthesis", she said.

"The feeling is spontaneous-as if it were your real hand", she told the BBC.

The bionic hand is controlled by artificial intelligence which gets the information translated from computer.

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Information on external stimuli is transferred to the brain through tiny electrodes implanted in the woman's arm nerves.

The neuro-attachment hand features sensors that continuously detect whether an object is soft or tough and sends messages to a small computer that Mascarao wears in a backpack. "The feeling is spontaneous as if it were your real hand; you're finally able to do things that before were hard, like getting dressed, putting on shoes - all mundane but important things - you feel complete", Mascarello was quoted as saying by the "BBC News".

In 2014 the same global team produced the world's first feeling bionic hand but the device was so bulky it could not leave the laboratory.

Even though she's central to this unbelievable innovation, Almerina Mascarello, who was chosen to test the prototype for six months, doesn't feel like a superhuman.

However, this is a first step towards a high-tech future in which robotics and prostheses will merge seamlessly with the human body, bringing relief to the disabled. He told BBC that "once you can control a robotic prosthesis with your brain you can think about creating one that allows more complex movements than a hand with five fingers".

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