Three Austrians have become the first in the world to carry prostheses that can be controlled with the mind through a technique known as “bionic reconstruction“.
This technique combines transfer of muscles and nerves, amputation and replacement with an advanced robotic prosthesis, according to Diario Do Comercio.
The bionic reconstruction technique was developed by Oskar Aszmann, director of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for the restoration of limb function of the Medical University of Vienna, together with engineers at the Neuro-rehabilitation Engineering Department at the University Medical Center Goettingen.
The three men who underwent the procedure had suffered for many years from brachial plexus injuries which affect the nerve leading from the armpit to the forearm and is responsible for controlling the movement.
Caused in car accidents and mountaineering, these injuries resulted in the malfunction of the hand.
Before the procedure, the three patients had to undergo intensive training for about nine months.
The training is based on activating the muscles, and then learn to use electrical signals to control a virtual hand. Once the patient was able to control the virtual hand, they were given a “hybrid” hand – a prosthetic hand connected to a device.
Three months after the amputation, the three men could use their robotic hands to perform daily tasks such as taking and lifting, using a key, pouring water from a jug, cut food and unbutton garments.
“So far, the bionic reconstruction has been performed only at our center in Vienna. However, there are no technical or surgical limitations that prevent this procedure is performed in centers with similar resources and experiences,” said Aszmann.