A recent report published in Science Translational Medicine reveals a Bionic Hand for Amputees that allows patients feel what they are touching. It helps them grip and recognize objects, whether they are hot, cold or even wet, dry.
The technology was tested on 36-year old Danish man, who lost his left limb in a fireworks accidents years ago. Remarkably, when connected to his nervous system, he actually felt what he was touching for the first time in 9 years. Scientists used blindfolds and had him wear earphones while they tested his ability to feel and manipulate balls, cylinders, and other shapes.
Although, Bio-medicine has already made great progress with neural prostheses in recent years yet the sensory feedback technology is something unusual about this new prosthesis.
Developed by Silvestro Micera and colleagues at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, the prosthesis works with special sensors that track fingers tension while the hand moves, sensors then send that information to a nearby computer, for processing into signals that person’s nervous system can understand. Then the computer throws those processed signals to electrodes implanted in nerves in the amputee’s upper arm, giving him the basic sense of touch.
When the brain knows whether object held by hand is soft or hard, wet or dry, it adjusts the grip of prosthesis accordingly. Such types of sensory feedback improves patient’s performance while grasping things, shaking hands and performing daily tasks. The prosthesis is a step forward bringing natural movements of amputee back to life. “Going forward, sensory feedback is probably the most important thing,” Tyler said. “It’s what changes a prosthesis from a tool to a hand.”