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August 1, 2014

Cork team lends a bionic hand

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Researchers from the Tyndall National Institute in UCC have helped to develop the first scientific prosthetic hand that looks and feels like a real limb.
The ‘Smart Hand Project’, a highly innovative European-funded research project, will tackle a major societal problem, according to Prof Fredrik Sebelius, Project Co-ordinator, based at Lund University, Sweden — that is, the development of a prosthetic hand that can function like a real human hand.


Researchers say the prosthetic hand will improve the quality of life for disabled persons who need prosthetic limbs. It is also hoped the hand will help to restore self-image and assist disabled amputees to return to full-time work.
Prof Sebelius said the project could also have a very positive impact for the rehabilitation of amputees. Commonly after accident and amputation, patients will suffer depression because of a distorted body image or the perceived social stigma attached to such a disability.
Under the European Commission 7th research funding programme, known as FP7, this collaborative project has received €1.8 million to develop the technology commonly known as the Smart Hand Prosthesis. Work on developing the hand prosthesis has been ongoing since November 2006.
Researchers from Cork’s Tyndall Institute are active in two areas of the project, in particular aiding with the fabrication of the recording and stimulation arrays, while being lead by Tel Aviv University in the study of methods to enhance the neural interface and bio-compatibility.
Tyndall’s contribution to the project lies in the development of the pick-up stimulation and bio-compatible integration.