Italian woman fitted with first bionic hand capable of tact

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-05 07:36:52|Editor: Jiaxin
Video PlayerClose

ROME, Jan. 4 (Xinhua) -- An Italian woman became the first patient in the world to be fitted with a bionic hand with a sense of touch, local media reported Thursday.

The bionic hand was assembled at the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in the Tuscan city of Pisa, and the operation to implant the hand was carried out at Rome's Policlinico Gemelli Hospital in June 2016, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The recipient was named as Almerina Mascarello, a woman in her 50s who is a resident of the northern Veneto region and who lost her left hand in a factory accident when she was in her 30s.

The operation was publicized today because it has been deemed successful and is being published in international scientific journals.

Mascarello's bionic hand is "an improved version of a bionic hand implanted on a Danish man in 2014," Professor Silvestro Micera, the bioengineer whose team assembled the hand, told ANSA news agency.

Micera, who also directs the Translational Neural Engineering Laboratory at the Federal Polytechnic School in Lausanne, Switzerland, is a leading researcher in the field of hybrid neuroprosthetic systems, or the interfacing of the human nervous system with artificial systems, according to the Sant'Anna website.

The bionic prosthesis comes with an electronic system, which registers movements through electrodes implanted in the wearer's muscles, then translates them into electrical signals functioning as commands to the artificial hand.

The system also transforms information recorded by sensors on the artificial hand into signals that get sent to the wearer's nerves, and therefore into sensory information.

The prosthesis is bulky and expensive, with the whole operation running into the "millions of euros", according to local media.

However, this is a first step towards a high-tech future in which robotics and prostheses will merge seamlessly with the human body, bringing relief to the disabled.

"The next step is completely implantable technology," Michera told Sky TG24 private broadcaster in an interview.