Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna have developed a technique that allows amputees to control a robotic prosthesis with their mind when there’s no neural connection left to exploit between the brain and the part of the hand that remains. Called “bionic reconstruction,” the procedure was applied to three patients who were able to successfully use the prosthesis to undertake routine activities, thereby improving their quality of life.
While we’ve seen thought controlled prosthetics that use an amputee’s own nerves to interpret signals, creating a mind-controlled prosthesis for those whose mind has been severed from their hands is extremely challenging. This happens when the network of nerves called the brachial plexus, (which begin in the neck and spread to form the nerves controlling movement in the shoulder, forearm and hand region), are severely damaged. Sufferers of brachial plexus injuries have effectively experienced an inner amputation – their hand is no longer connected to their brain.
We live in amazing times, y’all.