Amputees often times have to make radical adjustments to understand and move forward in life without an appendage. However, scientist’s recent discovery can make the adjustment less radical because patients will be able to feel the healing process. Prosthetic limbs are now allowing patients to retain their sense of touch.
Last year a man from Denmark experienced the sensation from picking up an object for the first time in 10 years. The man claims that he could detect texture and “could tell if it was a hard object or a soft one”.
The research study that gave this man his sense of touch was entitled Lifehand 2, and the first clinical trial occurred in Rome in February 2013, and the results were published March 2014. The project tries to create prosthetics that mimic how nerve endings in appendages send information to the brain and try to integrate sensory information detected from the prosthetic into the channel of information to the brain.
However, the sensors attached to the prosthetic originally provided information that was too “coarse” for the nervous system to interpret, but after computer algorithms tuned the electrical signal, the man claimed that he started receiving information in the same method from his prosthetic hand as he was from his natural hand.
Unfortunately, this technology is not yet cleared to leave the lab, meaning that their needs to be some time and innovation before this can be mass-produced for patients. Researchers want the prosthesis to be “completely wireless” and instead of using the computer algorithms they want a microchip to tune the signal.
Overall, these prosthetics limbs mark a huge step in improving recovery process of amputees and improving the quality of life of patients across the world. This type of technology allows patients to regain a sense of normalcy after a traumatic experience or a birth defect.