The mechanics of prosthetic hands has advanced tremendously over the past decades, and these devices have become lighter, stronger, and more responsive to their users. Yet, the sense of touch, a crucial component of a true prosthetic, has been difficult to implement.
Now researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy have reported in Science Translational Medicine the development of new technology that actually transmits what the fingers of a prosthetic are sensing as real tactile perception. They did this by implanting electrodes in the remaining arm of a Danish patient at the median and ulnar nerves, which were then stimulated in response to the pressure sensors built into the prosthetic.
While blindfolded, the amputee was able to near naturally feel how strong his grip was and could tell what shape were the objects placed in his prosthetic hand.
Study in Science Translational Medicine: Restoring Natural Sensory Feedback in Real-Time Bidirectional Hand Prostheses
École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne: Amputee Feels in Real-Time with Bionic Hand