Three Austrian amputees have become the first men to in the world to have mind-controlled robotic hands through bionic reconstruction.The three men had been living with injuries to their brachial plexus: a network of nerves responsible for controlling the movement of the upper limbs, making the injured hands near useless. The men sustained the injuries during climbing and motor vehicle accidents.
In effect, brachial plexus avulsion injuries represent an inner amputation, irreversibly separating the hand from neural control. Existing surgical techniques for such injuries are crude and ineffective and result in poor hand function," explained Professor Aszmann, Director of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for Restoration of Extremity Function at the Medical University of Vienna.
Before surgery, the three men went through several stages of cognitive training, rehabilitation techniques and an amputation of the non-functional hand.
The scientists found that, 3 months after amputation, the robotic prostheses had given the patients significantly improved functional movement in their hands, along with less pain and a better quality of life.
Their research, entitled "Bionic reconstruction to restore hand function after brachial plexus injury: a case series of three patients" is detailed in the journal The Lancet.