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Bionic hand wired directly to nerves can 'feel' when touched

The futuristic appendage will be hooked up to a patient's nervous system, providing crucial sensory feedback.

A new bionic hand that sends sensory signals directly into its user's brain will be put to the test later this year when it's grafted onto an amputee.

The recipient of the futuristic appendage is a man in his twenties from Rome, the Independent reports. Connections within the bionic hand are wired up directly to the patient's nervous system, allowing the breakthrough prosthetic to 'feel' like a real hand.

The hand will be hooked up to the median nerve, which runs the length of the upper arm, and the Ulnar nerve, which makes itself known when you bump your funny bone.

That should make it possible to move the hand using your mind, because your brain has a direct line to those nerves. A car accident victim had an earlier form of the hand hooked up to his nerves several years ago, and said he was able to feel the sensation of needles being prodded into the fake hand's palm.

The new arm will be trialled for a month, and will send signals back from the fingertips, palm and wrist.

Now playing: Watch this: Myoelectric Bebionic 3 bionic hand
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Bionic hands already in use employ 'myoelectric' tech, which sees a robot limb responding to patients' muscle impulses. The technology -- which you can see in the video above -- is very sophisticated and can allow for extremely precise movement, but doesn't let the wearer 'feel' what happens to the limb because it isn't connected to their nerves.

Can you think of any other uses for this space-age sensory technology? Feel your way to the comments, or on our touchy-feely Facebook wall.

Image credit: The Independent