In a huge step forward for the assistive-technology field, an Italian man who lost his left forearm in a car crash was successfully linked to a robotic hand, allowing him to feel sensations in the artificial limb and control it with his thoughts, reports the Associated Press. During a one-month experiment conducted last year, 26-year-old Pierpaolo Petruzziello felt like his lost arm had grown back again, although he was only controlling a robotic hand that was not even attached to his body. Though similar experiments have been successful before, the European scientists who led the project say this was the first time a patient has been able to make such complex movements as wiggling fingers, making a fist, and grabbing objects using only his mind to control a biomechanic hand connected to his nervous system. The challenge for scientists now will be to create a system that can connect a patient’s nervous system and a prosthetic limb for years, not just a month. The Italy-based team said it implanted electrodes into the nerves located in what remained of Petruzziello’s left arm, which was cut off in a crash some three years ago. The prosthetic was not implanted on the patient, only connected through the electrodes. The $3 million project, funded by the European Union, took five years to complete and produced several scientific papers that have been submitted to top journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…

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