Three Austrian Men Receive First Bionic Hands

Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. The well-known quote spoken during the opening sequence of The Six Million Dollar Man is not science fiction anymore.

The world’s first bionic reconstructions have been performed on three Austrian men to help them regain their hand function. This technique enabled the newly amputated patients to control prosthetic hands using their minds and once again perform various tasks that most people take for granted.

These weren’t just crazy people having their arms replaced with bionic ones but rather victims of serious nerve damage. In order to be fitted for the prosthetic hands, the three men had to undergo preliminary surgical work where leg muscle was grafted into their arms to improve signal transmission. Once this was healed, sensors placed on the arm allowed the men to learn how activate the muscle after which a virtual hand was mounted to their arm.

The process took about nine months just for the cognitive training and all three men had their new bionic hands mounted and in use. Amazing. But getting a new hand is really that. You have to learn to use the new limb from scratch and it took several more month for the men to get full control of the new hands.

Prior to the new hands, the three men scored an average of 9 out of 100 points in the tests shown in the video below, with the new hand they increased this score to 65. Further, the men reported less pain and a higher quality of life after the operation. Science when it’s best.

Thanks to NewScientist for providing us with this information.