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Medicine Science

Woman Wants To Replace Her Non-functioning Hand With a Bionic Prosthesis 171

erice writes about the case of Nicola Wilding: "Injured in crash which damaged the nerves in her arm, she has reached the limits that can what be accomplished with nerve transplants. She can move her arm but doctors have given up hope of restoring use of her hand. So she wants doctors to amputate the hand and replace it with a bionic version that does work." The doctor, Oskar C. Aszmann, first performed a similar operation last year.
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Woman Wants To Replace Her Non-functioning Hand With a Bionic Prosthesis

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  • Sounds good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:31PM (#39408617)
    Why not?
    • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:36PM (#39408653)

      It's the first step to being consumed by the Dark Side.

    • Re:Sounds good. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:39PM (#39408691)
      Hell, I want to replace my FUNCTIONAL hand with a bionic one.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:05PM (#39408891)

        Remember: practice on a hot-dog first.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by FunkDup ( 995643 )
          What you've really got to worry about is a voice activated bionic hand. Be absolutely sure that you never say "Fuck me dead!"
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            "Hand, pick up the ball."
      • I'd wait a few more revisions first. If you watched the video you saw it's still pretty slow and clumsy.
      • by necro81 ( 917438 )
        You don't have an appreciation for the current state of the art in upper limb prostheses. They are getting better all the time, but they are a far cry from restoring the dexterity, speed, range of motion, and fine control of a normal hand. Present prostheses, and forecasting out into the next decade, are functional replacements, but they are far from superior.
      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        That's crazy. No bionic hand is anywhere near as good as the one you grew unless you had a birth defect or ruined the one you had. There's no way anybody will get a bionic hand to have the sense of touch your real one does, at least in this lifetime.

        Now, a prosthetic hand that augments the real hand? Sure, I'll take two.

        BTW, I'm already a cyborg. There's a device in my left eye that replaces its lens. Want one? Usually gives you 20/20 or better vision (mine's 10/16 in that eye), costs $7k per eye, and they

    • Re:Sounds good. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:43PM (#39408717)
      Potential liability, perhaps. Who could she sue if it doesn't work right?
      • Re:Sounds good. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by rhook ( 943951 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:59PM (#39409189)

        These days you sign a release of liability that covers the doctors from pretty much any lawsuit before you go into surgery.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          No waiver can waive legal rights, and negligence can never be waived for. Just going in to a trial with a "he cut off my hand (at my request)" sob story may be sufficient for winning a negligence trial, even if no actual negligence occurred.
          • Depends on the country, state, hospital, and procedure, etc.

          • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

            you really think that's going to be a problem?

            are there really that many "he cut off my penis(at my request)" sob stories in the courts?? even though many of those cases actually regret what they asked the doctor to do.

    • It worked for Nina Sharp []

  • And it was also covered by the BBC [].
  • Quite... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quartus486 ( 935104 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @07:39PM (#39408687)

    ..the hand-decap then. Would someone just lend the poor woman a hand already?

  • In other news, DARPA announced the first functional light saber ...

  • She doesn't look a thing like Lindsay Wagner [].

  • Cutting off the hand is rather final.

    If I were the woman, I would attempt a radical neural stemcell treatment instead. If it goes wrong, then cut off the hand.

    The one you re born with is far superior to what science is currently able to provide, and it doesn't scare children.

    • by pz ( 113803 )

      The real question is why she doesn't want to use FES (Functional Electrical Stimulation) of her existing musculature. The interface is going to be the same as with a fully mechanical robotic hand, and the aesthetic outcome far superior.

      • Agreed. That would use her existing muscles, with artificial stimulation. A device worn on the forearm to stimulate those muscles would be less frightening than something like the LukeArm.

        Still, I would try to repair the damaged organic system first. There have been many breakthroughs in nerve regeneration in the peripheral nervous system that would be helpful, and artifical stimulation would be a great suppliment to that.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Granted, overall it's superior, but fake hands can do different individual things better, too. A prosthetic hand could easily be stronger than a real hand, for example. I don't know if anybody has worked on this, but I'm sure it's possible to do so. A prosthetic hand could also have more movement options. It could spin, for example, or the fingers could go all of the way back.

      I think that under certain conditions, for certain people, a prosthetic limb could be better than a real one.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Yeah, but even my working hands don't have 360 degree motion wrists! After playing Deus Ex, I want the option of snapping a guy's neck like that! Plus you can sharpen a pencil in one move! Bonus!
    • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) *

      Scaring children has its purpose.

      In this case, children will learn that driving can be dangerous, so pay attention to the road and other vehicles.

  • by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:16PM (#39408949) Journal

    If I had a nonfunctioning hand, I think I'd be happier with an exoskeleton, because it would be easy to install and uninstall. It's much more difficult to unamputate a hand.

    • I think you're right.
      however, it's probably easier to make robot fingers then exoskeleton fingers. although I wouldn't bet on it.
      furthermore, the doctor is probably interested in working with amputees in the future, so he wants to have experience with that.

    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      Even more awesome would be to put her own skin back on top of the bionic hand. Even more awesome than that would be if they could retain the sensory nerves in the skin while doing this (although it would make the slice-skin-open-show-robot-inside trick like on terminator a bit hurty)

      I guess we're a decade or two away from a bionic hand that is maintenance free enough to allow this, plus all the issues of keeping the skin alive without being attached to an actual hand, and by then hopefully we can just grow

    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      Finally, a power glove that isn't a total disappointment!

  • A Dead End (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sqrt(2) ( 786011 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:26PM (#39409005) Journal

    Synthetic prostheses will probably end up being a dead end, for normal people at least. If your goal is to get someone back to 100% function of their original organic hand (or an idealized perfectly functional human hand if it was already malfunctioning from birth) then growing a new hand, either in situ or in a lab for later grafting, seems more likely. After all, we carry around everything we need to grow more body parts--that's how you got your original hands. Coaxing the body to do that trick again will likely be accomplished before we can make a synthetic body part that works just as well as a real one.

    • Synthetic prostheses will probably end up being a dead end

      Yes, that's pretty much what "prosthesis" means.

      [runs away]

    • by mcavic ( 2007672 )
      Growing new organs would be ideal. But a synthetic hand doesn't have to work just like the organic one. It just has to work better than having no hand.
    • by dkf ( 304284 )

      If your goal is to get someone back to 100% function

      As opposed to being stuck with the current, say, 1–5% function? Having 100% as the only possible target is dumb.

  • by Ambassador Kosh ( 18352 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:34PM (#39409055)

    I see no problem with replacing a hand. I want to replace my entire body. Until we know how to digitize the brain it would probably have to be a brain in an enclosure inside a robot body but later the goal would be to replace the brain. Do synapse by synapse replacement while you are awake and by the end you can think thousands to millions of time faster and at no time did you ever die.

    Imagine all you could learn and see with a fully robotic body. You could explore space, many places on this planet that humans can't go and you would live long enough to see participate in many things that humans are only beginning to work on now. I would love to live for millions to billions of years and learn everything that I could.

    Once you are fully digital you could even make probes to send down to new planets and it would feel just like you where there but if the probe is destroyed you would be fine since you could run it on remote. You could even have your brain be a massively redundant computer with stable memory in case of full power loss. Humans bodies are just not up to what I want to do and I prefer to go the technology route and fix the problem instead of accepting the limitations of what humans can do. We have been at our best trying to strive beyond what we can do, even if we don't reach our goal we learn a lot in the process. Artificial eyes, ears, legs, arms etc will help many people.

  • No news here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dakra137 ( 1590245 ) on Monday March 19, 2012 @08:39PM (#39409093)
    Replacing non-functional limbs with functional prosthetics has been going on for decades. Decades ago this was controversial, especially for children with birth defect limb deficiencies. My father-in-law, Dr. Leon M. Kruger, was the chief surgeon at a Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children. He conducted and published a study following children as they grew up, comparing measures of success in life skills, schooling, careers, happiness, etc. for those who did or did not have amputations. The success of those with amputations and prosthetics far exceeded those who kept the nonfunctional hands, arms, feet or legs. As they grew up, many of these children sent Dr. Kruger movies of themselves engaged in sports, riding motorcycles, etc. One favorite story was of a motorcyclist with a prosthetic who was in an accident. He was stuck in a position unable to remove his prosthetic which was pinned down under the motorcycle. He shouted to the first responders, "Take off my leg. Take off my leg." They told him not to worry, they could get him out with amputation. He most emphatically told them he'd be able to get himself away if they would just disconnect his leg. You might consider that a sick story. He thought it was funny, as did the teenager swimming in a lake in the summer of 1975 who grabbed onto the dock, stuck his stump in the air, and yelled, "Shark, Shark."
    • One favorite story was of a motorcyclist with a prosthetic who was in an accident. He was stuck in a position unable to remove his prosthetic which was pinned down under the motorcycle. He shouted to the first responders, "Take off my leg. Take off my leg."

      They told him not to worry, they could get him out with amputation. He most emphatically told them he'd be able to get himself away if they would just disconnect his leg.

      Presumably you meant "they could get him out without amputation"? Not nazi-ing, just very confused at the text as-is. But a good story.

  • I thought that was Oscar Goldman's department...

  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) <> on Monday March 19, 2012 @10:41PM (#39409751)
    Cost 6 million dollars?
    • Closer to $29 million.

      Inflation is a bitch.

    • Dude.

      For Six million dollars the government bought Steve Austin an entire arm, two legs AND an eye.

      BTW, according to that 6 million from 1974 would be about 21 - 22 million in 2012 money

  • The doctor, Oskar C. Aszmann, first performed a similar operation last year.

    If the lady wants an artificial hand, that should be her call, but you have to wonder about her judgement if she wants a proctologist to do the procedure.

  • by hackshack ( 218460 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @01:53AM (#39410711)

    Doesn't this sound a bit drastic? Damn, if it were me I'd be hax0ring it.

    There's groups on places like the Open Prosthetic Project, who could design something for a use case like this. Probably for less than the cost of a "replacement."

    Why remove her hand, when you could support it with a rigid exoskeleton? Minimalist carbon fiber spars and rings (a ring around each knuckle), very light but strong, and little external actuators that sit in the wrist / forearm. Nylon worm gear and a little 12V DC motor for each digit. Run back to an Arduino or similar and pull input from the last-known-good nerves around the base of the arm. Basically support the (numb) arm in position and have the exoskeleton move it around. Lock the wrist in the first iteration as you refine the design. Lots of little vacuum actuated suckers that keep the whole shebang stuck to the skin (creepy, but secure!)

    A hundred bucks of carbon fiber, maybe a couple thousand bucks of really good fasteners and electronics, tubing, motors, pump, rubber and CNC work. $10,000 a month (for 3-6 months, depending) to a hacker who knows what he's doing.

    Just sayin'.

    • I wouldn't trust an open-source hacker to program my artificial arm. Documentation would be limited to object member descriptions and the damned thing would probably integrate a webcam so it could give Steve Ballmer the finger every time it saw him.
  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @10:45AM (#39413273)

    Before going the route of DarthVader, would they not see if they can't do a full hand transplant. I seem to recall a successful one being accomplished already in the not so distant past.

  • I would trade in my fully working arms to get bionic replacements.

    Hell, I would have my head transplanted onto a fully functional robotic body.

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