Scientists have developed a new technology of prosthetics – MyoHand VariPlus, which allows people who have lost limbs to recognize temperature and even touch. In particular, the scientists integrated a special heat sensor into the already existing prosthesis.
The team of researchers notes that they created it so that people after amputation can re-experience the full range of tactile sensations available to human limbs, writes A Cell Press Journal.
As reported in the magazine, the feeling of temperature became available thanks to MiniTouch – a sensor placed on the tip of the index finger.
It was combined with a thermodome (a thermodynamic device) and a human body. If the sensor detects a change in temperature, the information about it is transmitted to the central nervous system.
“Until now, thermal sensations have not been given due attention in such studies, although there is a lot of evidence of their importance in everyday life.
We believe that amputees could benefit from the restoration of temperature sensations that go far beyond the detection of cold and warm objects.” – noted Jonathan Muhaim, PhD student at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) and one of the leading authors of the study.
The first owner of a prosthesis with such a device was the 57-year-old Italian Fabrizio, who lost his arm 37 years ago (his last name is withheld for reasons of confidentiality). For more than a year, he participated in laboratory studies of a new device and performed various sensorimotor tasks.
For example, in one of the experiments, he successfully distinguished water by temperature, which was in the range from 20 to 40°C. It was placed in visually identical bottles – without labels and inscriptions.
In addition, Fabrizio sorted metal cubes of different temperatures, and he also needed to distinguish a human hand from a blindfolded prosthesis.
The developers say that their main goal was to make the lives of people with amputations more pleasant and “help them perceive the world more naturally.” Its main advantage is that people will again have the possibility of physical contact with another person.
“One day Fabrizio accidentally touched the hand of one of the lab assistants and said, ‘Whoa, that’s a person.’ So the cool thing is that you can feel yourself touching another person.” – says one of the inventors.
The next step was to announce the creation of such a prosthesis for home use with the ability to recognize temperature from different points of the phantom limb. For example, if people can distinguish between thermal and tactile sensations on their fingers, this will help them pick up a hot drink, while the sensation on the back of the hand can enhance the sense of human connection by allowing them to feel another person’s touch.
We will remind you that in Lithuania, an electric chair for people with disabilities was presented, which allows you to take a vertical position.
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