One of the most catastrophic injuries suffered by Connecticut workers is the loss of a hand. The injury severely limits the ability of a worker to return to the job and requires extensive retraining. Prosthetic hands, ranging from hooks to complex electronic robotic hands, can be very expensive. Help may be on the way because Italian researchers recently announced the development of a robotic hand that may alleviate or eliminate these problems.

The new hand employs a simpler mechanical design than do other robotic hands. The hand – called the Hennes robotic hand – employs myoelectric sensors that can sense and react to electronic signals sent by the brain to the muscles. The Hennes hand uses only one motor to move all five fingers, which makes the hand both lighter and cheaper. The hand is said to offer greater facility in grasping differently-shaped objects. The new hand does not, however, allow the wearer to control the movements of individual fingers for tasks such as typing on a computer keyboard.

Many workers, especially in the United States, who have lost hands in workplace accidents prefer the familiar hook prosthesis because it allows the worker to operate heavy equipment. Researchers are hopeful that the new hand will overcome this resistance with its cheaper price. The hand is expected to be introduced in the market next year in Europe at an initial price of $11,900, about 30 percent lower than present prices.

The loss of a hand or any other body part can significantly disable any worker who suffers such an injury. Anyone who has suffered such an injury in a work-related accident is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including the cost of vocational rehabilitation. Whether the benefits include prosthetic hands remains to be determined. Anyone who has lost a hand in a work-related accident may wish to consult an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for advice concerning the availability of prosthetic limbs as part of compensation benefits.

Post Type: Event Based