A new and better bionic hand under development connects directly to the nervous system and could one day return dexterity and sensation to amputees, researchers say.
In recent years, a plethora of bionic hands have emerged for amputees. However, surveys of those using such artificial hands have revealed that up to 50 percent of amputees do not use the prosthesis regularly, due to poor functionality, appearance and controllability.
So, to improve the amount of dexterity and sensation of these bionic hands, scientists reasoned they could use interfaces that link the hands with the nervous system, potentially enabling intuitive control and realistic sensory feedback.
"Our dream is to have Luke Skywalker getting back his hand with normal function," researcher Silvestro Micera told TechNewsDaily, referencing the hero in "Star Wars" who gets an artificial hand after his real one is cut off. [Brainpower: Human Minds May Soon Control Prosthetic Limbs]
Micera is the head of the translational neural engineering lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, which is one of the collaborators helping to develop the new bionic hand.