Sensors and electrodes connected to nerves allow amputees to differentiate an object’s shape and texture again.
Scientists have created a prosthetic hand which enables an amputee to experience the sensation of touch again. Developed as part of the Lifehand 2 project, this new bionic hand connects to an amputee’s arm, allowing him to make fine distinctions between an object’s shape and texture.
Dennis Sørensen wore the hand during its preliminary trial, and by the final week, he was able to differentiate shapes with exceptional accuracy and no detectable delay. In an interview with The Verge, Silvestro Micera, one of the authors of the project, said, “What was amazing in the subject was the possibility to get — very quickly, almost immediately — the ability to use this restored sense of modality in an effective way.”
To achieve this level of sensitivity, scientists had to implant artificial sensors and electrodes in the amputated area of his arm. Because the nerves were still operational, electrical signals sparked by the bionic hand were easily understood and translated into sensory feelings.
The goal now is to test the bionic hand long-term, and increase its capability to convey more information.
Hear what Micera and Sørensen have to say about the technology below.