ESSEX University experts have helped develop the world’s most advanced bionic hand.

Researchers at the university were involved in the project using pioneering surgery on a person with an amputated hand.

It saw a Swedish woman become the first recipient of an “osseo-neuromuscular implant” which can control a dexterous prosthetic hand.

In the pioneering surgery, titanium implants were placed in the two forearm bones, from which electrodes to nerves and muscle were extended to extract signals to control a robotic hand and to provide tactile sensations.

The hand offers a greater degree of sensitivity combined with a fully rechargeable battery.

It is also the first of its kind to be suitable for people who have had an amputation below the elbow.

Previous bionic hands have sometimes relied on a large computer which the recipient needed to carry in a backpack.

But the latest design has all these elements incorporated into the hand.

Scientists and researchers from the university’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering were involved in the project.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Picture: Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan

Dr Luca Citi, who is leading the Essex side of the project, said: “Within the project, the Essex team contributed to the development of algorithms which could decode and understand the neuro-muscular signals from the user’s brain about what they intended to do and then send those commands to the robotic control of the prosthetic hand.

“This is a take-home hand. We detect the electrical signal that the brain is sending to control the hand.

“We detect that signal and we do some number crunching to make sense of those signals, realising that a specific pattern of signals relates to a specific function that the patient is trying to perform.

“We tried to take an approach where we were making sense of the neurosignal to restore movement in a natural way.

“So the patient does not need to specifically think about what to do, they can use the hand in more natural way.”

The woman, who does not wish to be named, is now learning how to control her new hand using virtual technology.

Two more patients will be implanted with this new generation of prosthetic hands in the upcoming months in Italy and Sweden.