A bionic hand with tactile sensitivity: scientists have developed a new prosthesis
Amputees have been able to feel the warmth of human touch with the help of new bionic technology.
Developers from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland tested the technology on 27 participants. 17 of them reported the restoration of sensations, writes Reuters with reference to Science.
For example, 59-year-old Fabrizio Fidati lost his right arm in an accident 25 years ago. But the new prosthesis enabled him to distinguish between icy water and the warmth of another person’s touch.
Scientists installed Fabrizio thermal electrodes on the skin of the stump (part of the amputated limb).
“The first time I took part in the experiment, I felt something again in my phantom hand.” – he said.
Other participants in the experiment were also able to distinguish between plastic, glass and copper, indicating in the image where they had regained sensitivity.
“By stimulating certain parts of the amputee’s residual arm, we could induce sensation in the absent phantom arm. What they feel with the phantom arm is similar to the sensation of the intact arm“, explained the head of the study, senior scientific neuroengineer Solaiman Shokur.
The technology was tested for more than two years. It does not require implantation: it can be worn on the skin and combined with a conventional prosthesis.
“There is also an important social aspect. When I meet someone and shake their hand, I expect to feel warmth.” added Fabrizio.
The developers plan to use this innovation in combination with other technologies to enable amputees to experience tactility.
“Temperature feedback is important for communicating information that goes beyond touch, it leads to feelings of attachment. We’re social creatures, and warmth is an important part of that.” – noted EPFL professor Silvestro Micera.
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