Almerina Mascarello, who lost her hand in a workplace accident in 1993, was fitted with the prosthetic as part of a six-month experiment at Rome’s Policlinico Gemelli hospital in June 2016.
The hand, which has a sense of touch, was built by a team led by professor Silvestro Micera from Pisa’s Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies and the Polytechnic of Lausanna.
“The hand is an improved version of one fitted onto a Danish man in 2014,” Micera was quoted by Corriere as saying.
During the experiment, Mascarello was able to use the hand beyond a laboratory thanks to the technology required to make it work being small enough to put into a backpack. But it was removed after six months as it was a prototype. The 55-year-old, from the town of Montecchio Precalcino, told Ansa she was looking forward to May when a bionic hand specially made for her is expected to arrive.
“Only then will I be able to say that my life has been completely changed,” she added.
Micera said that the technology includes a system which registers the movement of muscles, translating them into electrical signals, which are turned into a set of commands for the bionic hand.
Sensors can detect whether an object is hard or soft, while the information is transported to the recipient’s brain via tiny electrodes implanted in upper arm nerves.
The prototype has been tested on several people from several European countries, with each operation costing several thousand euros.