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Men have paralyzed hands amputated and replaced with bionic ones (VID)

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posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 07:19 PM
From NEW

Three people with paralysed arms had their hands amputated and replaced by prosthetic ones that they control with their mind

Three men with serious nerve damage had their hands amputated and replaced by prosthetic ones that they can control with their minds.

Bionic arm trumps flesh after elective amputation

The procedure, dubbed "bionic reconstruction", was carried out by Dr. Oskar Aszmann at the Medical University of Vienna, Austria.

The men had all suffered accidents which damaged the brachial plexus – the bundle of nerve fibres that runs from the spine to the hand. Despite attempted repairs to those nerves, the arm and hand remained paralysed.

"But still there are some nerve fibres present," says Aszmann. "The injury is so massive that there are only a few. This is just not enough to make the hand alive. They will never drive a hand, but they might drive a prosthetic hand."

This approach works because the prosthetic hands come with their own power source. Aszmann's patients plug their hands in to charge every night. Relying on electricity from the grid to power the hand means all the muscles and nerves need do is send the right signals to a prosthetic.

Preparing the body

Before the operation, Aszmann's patients had to prepare their bodies and brains. First he transplanted leg muscle into their arms to boost the signal from the remaining nerve fibres. Three months later, after the nerves had grown into the new muscle, the men started training their brains.

First they practised activating the muscle using an armband of sensors that picked up on the electrical activity. Then they moved on to controlling a virtual arm. Finally, Aszmann amputated their hands, and replaced them with a standard prosthesis under the control of the muscle and sensors.

"I was impressed and first struck with the surgical innovation," says Dustin Tyler of the Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. "There's something very personal about having a hand; most people will go to great lengths to recover one, even if it's not very functional. It's interesting that people are opting for this."

While Aszmann's approach uses a grafted muscle to relay signals from the brain to a prosthesis, others are taking a more direct route, reading brain waves directly and using them to control the hand. A team at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has used a brain implant to allow a paralysed woman to control a robotic arm using her thoughts alone.

Milorad Marinkovic with his bionic arm

Too complex

Tyler says one advantage of an elective amputation is that it allows the surgeons to plan exactly where the cut will be made, and how the prosthesis can graft to the wearer's skeleton for enhanced stability.

Even if nerve and muscle function could be completely restored in the arm, biological hands are too complex for surgeons like Aszmann to rewire. The muscles in our hands have the highest density of nerves in the body, and the interplay of tendons, muscles and ligaments means that even small defects can prevent a hand functioning properly.

A prosthetic hand is simpler, and easier to work with. "I'm not sure we need to replace hands perfectly," says Tyler. "You may not play the piano yet, so rather than replacing the hand, the goal is to make you forget you lost it."

For Aszmann's patients, that simple, functional prosthetic hand works better than their biological one. After the transplant, all three were able to pick up a ball, pour water from a jug and do up buttons.

Function restored

The patients' scores on a range of limb function tests also improved after the surgery. On a test called the Southampton Hand Assessment Procedure they improved their average score from 9 out of 100 to 65, where 100 is a normally functioning hand.

Although Aszmann's procedure gives hand function back to his patients, he can't yet give them back their sense of touch. "There are about 70,000 nerve fibres to a normal hand, and the majority of these are sensory fibres carrying hand-to-brain information," he says. "Only 10 per cent are motor fibres."

"Sensation and touch is what connects us to the world," says Tyler. He's working on a prototype prosthetic arm that provides hand to brain information, not just motor control. The current version uses wires to deliver electronic stimulation to nerves in the arm, but Tyler says his team will have a fully implantable wireless version in three or four years.

Even then, our technological alternatives to the hand will remain crude compared with fully functional human hands. "There's an immense interplay that makes the hand what it is," says Aszmann. "It's a fascinating organ."
"We're rethinking the wiring of the body," says Tyler.

If it was my choice and I had a similar issue I would do the same..They have working hands AGAIN! The ammount of freedom given to these men must be overwhelming..I fully support this. "GO SCIENCE"!

edit on 2/25/2015 by DjembeJedi because: (no reason given)

edit on 2/25/2015 by DjembeJedi because: (no reason given)

edit on 2/25/2015 by DjembeJedi because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 07:51 PM
a reply to: DjembeJedi

The early stages of the 6 million dollar man. I remember growing up watching that show and always thought it would be so cool if they could actually create super human bionic limbs. Now it seems like it's staring to become a reality. I wouldn't be surprised it they tweaked the power of the bionic hands so they would be much stronger than a human. Replacing legs with bionics will really make wheel chairs obsolete. We will than see super human bionic speed!

I wouldn't be surprised if fiction becomes a reality and they recruit maimed soldiers to become bionic elite soldiers or spies. Steve Austin spies will become a reality. The next thing we'll have to wait and see is the bionic eye.

posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 07:58 PM
a reply to: WeRpeons

The next thing we'll have to wait and see is the bionic eye.

"They" are on it!
Man Gets Bionic Eye
btw..I LOVED that show when I was a Kid

posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 08:22 PM
a reply to: DjembeJedi

"They" are on it! Man Gets Bionic Eye
btw..I LOVED that show when I was a Kid

COOL! That's awesome! It's nice to see that the blind have hope that someday they can see again.

That show was one of my favorites too!

posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 08:46 PM
More awesome android wonderfulness. I still think cloning yourself for body parts is the best way to go and you know what, I'm fairly sure that every billionaire or top tier wealthy person already has a clone in an incubator exactly for this purpose. I know I would.

posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 09:07 PM

originally posted by: WeRpeons
a reply to: DjembeJedi

The early stages of the 6 million dollar man.

On topic:

If it really is wired to the brain, what happens when you want to strangle your boss..?

It would be nice to put that to the test.

posted on Feb, 25 2015 @ 09:18 PM
It is always wonderful to see such things made, but even with medical coverage and the high cost of deductibles and whatever, who will be able to afford it? My husband has a prosthetic leg that is electronic and bends at the knee and even with medical coverage it cost him a fortune.

posted on Feb, 26 2015 @ 02:35 PM
How are these things charged? thats always been my question, how long does the battery last and how often does it need to be replaced... basic questions that you would never worry about with flesh.

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