The Mail Times reports on a bionic breakthrough – a man who can feel and control his prosthetic hand as if it was the one he was born with:
The Italian-led team said at a news conference Wednesday in Rome that last year it implanted electrodes into the arm of the patient who had lost his left hand and forearm in a car accident.
The prosthetic was not implanted on the patient, only connected through the electrodes. During the news conference, video was shown of 26-year-old Pierpaolo Petruzziello as he concentrated to give orders to the hand placed next to him.
“It’s a matter of mind, of concentration,” Petruzziello said. “When you think of it as your hand and forearm, it all becomes easier.”
During the month he had the electrodes connected, Petruzziello learned to wiggle the robotic fingers independently, make a fist, grab objects and make other movements.
“Some of the gestures cannot be disclosed because they were quite vulgar,” joked Paolo Maria Rossini, a neurologist who led the team working at Rome’s “Campus Bio-Medico,” a university and hospital that specialize in health sciences.
“It felt almost the same as a real hand. They stimulated me a lot, even with needles … you can’t imagine what they did to me,” he joked with reporters.
While the “LifeHand” experiment lasted only a month, this was the longest time electrodes had remained connected to a human nervous system in such an experiment, said Silvestro Micera, one of the engineers on the team. Similar, shorter-term experiments in 2004-2005 hooked up amputees to a less-advanced robotic arm with a pliers-shaped end, and patients were only able to make basic movements, he said.