Bionic breakthrough announced in the design of prosthetics

Bionic breakthrough announced in the design of prosthetics
By Daniel Bellamy
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Researchers say they've designed a prosthesis that the amputee's body accepts as a part of itself.


A new type of bionic arm represents a breakthrough in prosthetics for amputees, according to a research team of scientists from Italy, Germany and Switzerland.

They've managed to stimulate the nerves inside an amputed arm using computer code, sending signals to the prosthesis that are very similar to what would be sent naturally.

It means the fingertips of a bionic hand can be told when and how to grip an object.

It's a big step towards desiging a hand prosthesis which for the first time will be able to work with a person's perception of touch.

Put more simply, it will give many amputees more freedom to move.

"For a few months I had the opportunity to move my arm in a way that otherwise I would not have been able to do. I could personally control the movement of my hand with extremely natural sensations," Loretana Puglisi, an amputee who tested the prosthesis, told Euronews.

The computer code developed by the  team can work just as well in any other prosthesis such as a leg.

"The new challenge for hand prostheses is to recover not only a controlled and stable grip, but also a sensation that is very similar to that of a real limb," Giacomo Valle, a Ph.D student at the Institute of Biorobotics, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa who worked on the research, told Euronews.

And the team say they've designed the prosthesis so that the amputee's body accepts it as a part of itself.

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