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October 20, 2023
Robotic hand attached to bone and nerves worked flawlessly for years

A 50-year-old Swedish woman who lost her hand in a farming accident has been fitted with a revolutionary bionic prosthesis that has profoundly improved her quality of life. The artificial hand, developed by Prensilia and a team of international researchers, connects directly to the user’s bones, muscles and nerves, enabling precise finger movements and even a limited sense of touch.

According to an Oct. 18 Science Alert report, Karin — whose full name is undisclosed — lost her right hand over 20 years ago. Since receiving the bionic hand three years ago, she has regained the ability to perform 80% of her daily tasks, like preparing food, picking up objects, and opening bags and doors. Crucially, the prosthesis has also significantly reduced her chronic phantom limb pain.

According to lead researcher Max Ortiz Catalán of the Chalmers University of Technology, this is the first robotic hand with internal electrodes to demonstrate long-term viability for below-elbow amputees. The prosthesis contains sensors embedded inside the hand rather than on the surface, allowing more direct and consistent neural stimulation. This novel human-machine interface integrates biology and electronics, dramatically improving grip precision and motor control.

Fusing the titanium implants attached to Karin’s ulna and radius bones directly with her living bone tissue

The key innovation enabling seamless integration is called “osseointegration” — fusing the titanium implants attached to Karin’s ulna and radius bones directly with her living bone tissue. This creates a permanent, sturdy connection for attaching the robotic arm.

In addition, muscle grafts from Karin’s leg were connected to the implants, giving severed arm nerves and muscles a point of reattachment. The muscle grafts contain electrodes to amplify signals to the prosthetic interface.

Because the hand attaches straight to the skeleton rather than using conventional removable ball-and-socket fittings — patients can wear their prosthesis comfortably for extended periods. The direct skeletal attachment also enables precise sensory feedback. Karin’s grip precision improved nearly 400% compared to traditional prostheses. After years of chronic “meat grinder” phantom limb pain, she now requires far less medication.

The bionic hand, named Mia Hand, was developed by Prensilia and funded by the European Commission. Ortiz Catalán calls it a promising step toward next-generation bionic limbs. He is currently working in Ukraine to assist amputees injured in the war.

This device represents a major advance in prosthetics, liberating amputees from the limitations of previous technologies. Direct bone anchoring and embedded sensors may soon make more natural-feeling bionic limbs available to millions worldwide.

Featured Image Credit: ThisIsEngineering; Pexels; Thank you!

The post Robotic hand attached to bone and nerves worked flawlessly for years appeared first on ReadWrite.


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