Three men have become the first in the world to have their hands replaced by bionic versions controlled by their mind.

All three had suffered nerve damage from climbing and motorcycle injuries that left them in pain and with little control over their “real” hands.

The new technique, called “bionic reconstruction”, involved amputating the hand and substituting it with a robotic prosthesis.

Three months after the procedure the three men, from Austria, are now able to pick up a ball, pour water from a jug and undo buttons for the first time since their accidents.

Their hands respond to thought-controlled electrical impulses sent from attached muscles.

Professor Oska Aszmann, director of the Christian Doppler Laboratory for the Restoration of Extremity Function at the Medical University of Vienna, said the nerve injuries suffered by the men was effectively an “inner amputation”.

He said: “Existing surgical techniques for such injuries are crude and ineffective and result in poor hand function.

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