LONDON (AP) — Three Austrians have replaced injured hands with bionic ones that they can control using nerves and muscles transplanted into their arms from their legs.
The three men are the first to undergo what doctors refer to as “bionic reconstruction,” which includes a voluntary amputation, the transplantation of nerves and muscles and learning to use faint signals from them to command the hand.
Previously, people with bionic hands have primarily controlled them with manual settings.
Milorad Marinkovic holds an egg with his bionic arm.
“This is the first time we have bionically reconstructed a hand,” said Dr. Oskar Aszmann of the Medical University of Vienna, who developed the approach with colleagues. “If I saw these kinds of patients five to seven years ago, I would have just shrugged my shoulders and said, ‘there’s nothing I can do for you.'”
He said while some patients might be candidates for a hand transplant, that has its own complications, including having to take anti-rejection medicines for the rest of their lives.
Aszmann and colleagues described the cases of the three men in a report published online Wednesday in the journal Lancet. The men decided on amputation only after having the bionic hand strapped onto their injured hand, to see how the robotic one might function.
For Milorad Marinkovic, 30, who lost the use of his right hand in a motorbike accident more than a decade ago, the bionic hand has allowed him to hold things like a sandwich or bottle of water — and more importantly, to play with his three children.
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