UNDATED (WJRT) -
(06/09/14) - Nearly two million Americans are living without a limb.
Right now, researchers are studying a bionic hand.
The prosthetic bends, twists and moves just like a real hand. Until now, upper limb prosthetics hadn't advanced much over the years.
This bionic hand could revolutionize the way wounded soldiers move.
Seven years ago, Army Sergeant First Class Ramon Padilla Munguia lost his hand - and almost his life - in Afghanistan.
"Every morning, I thank God that I'm still here," he said.
Now, Ramon is using a bionic hand. He's the second person in the world to test the new prosthetic.
Using the Imes System, Ramon has eight tiny sensors implanted on muscles inside his arm. As he contracts his muscles, the electrodes pick up the signal and transmit it to the prosthesis, which moves accordingly.
"Now, if I want to close a hand, all I got to do is this movement and I do this movement and the hand closes," he said.
Current motorized hand prostheses use surface electrodes that are placed over the skin and only allow limited motion.
"So, we thought if we could put electrodes underneath the skin and put them into the muscles directly, we'd have a lot better control," said Paul F. Pasquina, MD, Uniformed Services Univ. of the Health Sciences.
Ramon can rotate, bend and move his hand and fingers in different directions. He's even learned to play golf with his new prosthetic.
"It's a wonderful game, and it's a beautiful game. This gives me a brand new incentive to do well," he said.
A new hand - and a new found hobby - for a man who won't let anything hold him back.
"The prosthetic system is controlled by implantable myo-electric sensors, or Imes, for short.