Three men in Vienna have received mind-controlled robotic arms as part of a new technique known as bionic reconstruction. The three men all had their original limbs, but suffered from brachial plexus injuries which affected the nerve that runs from the armpit into the arm. The bionic reconstruction had three phases that ended in the patients receiving bionic arms that completely interfaced with their nervous system, allowing them to control their new arm with just their brain.
The three phases occurred over a nine month period that involved intense, cognitive training. Patients first learned how to control a virtual hand using electrical signals, then learned to use a hybrid hand– a sort of secondary hand that attached to the patients’ non-functioning hand, and finally patients underwent voluntary amputation of their non-functioning hand to be fitted with a myoelectric prosthetic limb. The new hand allowed the patients to perform every day tasks that they had been unable to perform before receiving the bionic limb. For more information and to see how the bionic limb works, click on the video above.