A man who lost his right hand in an accident four years ago has had his sense of touch restored thanks to an advanced bionic replacement.

Igor Spetic was fitted with a prosthetic hand, but the lack of sensation meant he had to pay careful attention when handling objects, and judge how firmly he was gripping by eye.

A team at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, fitted sensors to the hand which send signals to “cuffs” attached to Mr Spetic’s remaining nerves. These cuffs can be electronically stimulated, interpreted in the brain as different sensations.

Mr Spetic has been using the sensing hand for more than two years. He can now identify different pressures and textures and complete delicate tasks such as plucking stalks from cherries. A second patient has been using the system for eighteen months.

The researchers believe that a fully-developed system that can be implanted within a day could be ready within the next five to ten years.

Imogen Wetton, senior serious injury solicitor based at Thompsons Solicitors' Manchester office, said, “We have significant experience working with clients who have undergone amputations, and work closely with the Limbless Association, so understand the devastating emotional impact losing a limb can have on an individual, and their families.

“Adjusting to life with a prosthetic limb can be challenging, with sensations that we take for granted suddenly taken away. Any advancements in bionic technology can have an enormous impact on an amputee’s quality of life.

“While still at a relatively early stage, the fact that two patients have now been using this new system for a substantial period of time, developing a more and more refined sense of touch, makes this a particularly exciting development. This system could completely transform an amputee’s life if made more widely available and we look forward to seeing it progress further.”