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Scientists develop a prosthetic hand that is able to restore over 90 per cent of functionality

A prosthetic hand that can grip and move like a normal hand could restore over 90 per cent of functionality to people with upper-limb amputations, developers claim.  

A team of orthopedists, industrial designers and patients worked with scientists from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy, on the artificial hand named Hannes.

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The limb was designed to accurately replicate the size, weight, appearance, and natural grasping motion of a human hand to help people gain near normal control.

Researchers claim Hannes is ready for market and has been given regulatory approval. The team are now working to find investors to make it a reality. 

Hannes has the ability to replicate the key biological properties of the human hand – natural and adaptable movement, levels of force and speed and grasp robustness.  

A prosthetic hand that can grip and move like a normal hand could restore over 90 per cent of functionality to people with upper-limb amputations, developers claim 

The limb was designed to accurately replicate the size, weight, appearance, and natural grasping motion of a human hand to help people gain near normal control

The limb was designed to accurately replicate the size, weight, appearance, and natural grasping motion of a human hand to help people gain near normal control

Researchers claim Hannes is ready for market and has been given regulatory approval. The team are now working to find investors to make it a reality

Researchers claim Hannes is ready for market and has been given regulatory approval. The team are now working to find investors to make it a reality

It has been designed to resemble a human hand and wrist, is soft and has the ability to dynamically adapt itself to the shape of objects the wearer wants to grasp. 

‘It is uniquely similar to a human hand and, being developed directly with patients, it is of practical use,’ according to its developers.

A pilot trial involved amputees found that the volunteers could autonomously use Hannes to perform activities linked to daily living after less than a week of training. 

It can be worn all day and is adjustable to different upper limb impairments, according to the development team. 

Hannes includes an array of sensors placed with a custom socket that detects the activity of any residual limb muscles in the lower or higher part of the arm.

These are actively contracted by the user to perform multiple movements.  

A mobile phone app and bluetooth connection can also be used to adjust the operating parameters of the hand – including precision and speed of movement. 

This allows the wearer to optimise the experience to suit their own requirements rather than have a single ‘one size fits all’ system. 

Hannes has been tested for durability and robustness in a setting that simulated more than one year of usage of a so called ‘pro-user’.  

‘The true intelligence of Hannes lies in the mechanical design, which is completely unique in its market sector, and it gives to the prosthesis the versatility and the movement of a natural hand,’ the researchers explained.

‘The underlying mechanism of the hand is a mechanical differential system that allows Hannes to adapt to the object being grasped by using just a single motor.’

Hannes has the ability to replicate the key biological properties of the human hand - natural and adaptable movement, levels of force and speed and grasp robustness

Hannes has the ability to replicate the key biological properties of the human hand – natural and adaptable movement, levels of force and speed and grasp robustness

A mobile phone app and bluetooth connection can also be used to adjust the operating parameters of the hand - including precision and speed of movement

A mobile phone app and bluetooth connection can also be used to adjust the operating parameters of the hand – including precision and speed of movement

It comes in two different sizes and has been designed to work for both the right and left hand, as well as for men and women.

The aim was to create a hand that was as close to a human hand as possible, the developers said, adding that fingers on the hand can flex and be positioned in a natural manner, even at rest. 

The thumb can be oriented in three different positions to replicate a wide variety of grips – including a fine grip to pick up small objects.

It also includes a lateral grip allowing the person to grasp thin objects, and a power grip capable of grasping and moving heavy loads.  

The aim was to create a hand that was as close to a human hand as possible, the developers said, adding that fingers on the hand can flex and be positioned in a natural manner, even at rest

The aim was to create a hand that was as close to a human hand as possible, the developers said, adding that fingers on the hand can flex and be positioned in a natural manner, even at rest

‘The overall grasp is efficient, robust against external conditions and natural,’ according to the developers.

Hannes can perform a full closed grasp in less than one second and, at the same time, it can exert a maximum grasp force of 150N.

That is level of force well beyond other commercial and research hands, and it has an autonomy of a whole day of standard use – based on battery life. 

The name is a tribute to Professor Johannes ‘Hannes’ Schmidl, technical director of the Centro Protesi Inail in the 1960s and pioneer in upper limb prosthetics. 

The findings have been published in the journal Science Robotics. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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