Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

​Nerve implants make bionic hand feel almost real

Published time: February 06, 2014 09:19
Edited time: February 07, 2014 12:55
Mario Tama / Getty Images / AFP

Mario Tama / Getty Images / AFP

A man who lost his hand a decade ago can now feel it again, thanks to complex surgery which implanted electrodes into nerves in his upper arms. The implants give feedback from pressure sensors in the prosthetic hand, which his brain processed naturally.

"I didn't realize it was possible," said Dennis Aabo Sørensen from Denmark, who underwent the implant surgery in Italy and spent a month in a lab describing his experiences with the novel prosthetic to an international team of scientists. "The feeling is very close to the sensation you get when you touch things with your normal hand."

To restore feeling, surgeons at Gemelli Hospital in Rome implanted four electrodes into the ulnar and median nerve bundles in Sørensen’s upper arm. The bundles normally transmit signals from four of the hand’s five fingers, with the exception of the thumb.

The implanted electrodes were connected to pressure sensors on the fingertips and palm of a robotic prosthetic hand. The connection ran through cables outside of the patient’s arm. Special software was developed to interpret the electric signals from the sensors into a form that the human nervous system can understand. The team detailed its work in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The resulting feedback was good enough for Sørensen to tell the difference between sensations ranging from the slightest touch to that just below the pain threshold. He said it was very natural and close to how his real hand feels.

In the lab Sørensen could differentiate objects held in the prosthetic hand by touch alone. While wearing a blindfold, he could tell whether he was holding cotton wool, a plastic cup or a block of wood about 90 per cent of the time.

"With my existing prosthesis I always have to look at what I'm doing with it," he said. "It's an amazing product. I'd take one tomorrow if I could."

The technology, however, is far from available on the market just yet. Sørensen had to undergo a second operation after his lab test, because regulations preclude the keeping of implanted electrodes for longer periods.

The developers are yet to establish how well the electrodes will keep without deterioration in the long run, although Sørensen’s result was promising and gives hope that the electrodes will function for several years without causing harm.

There is also an issue of miniaturization. All the equipment and cabling would have to fit inside a prosthesis to be practical.

Comments (13)

 

Jakob Findlay 24.02.2014 04:10

this brings whole new posibilitys to future prostetis this could mean were not going to just have to deal with a artificial limbs but could actualy benefit from it beyond just regaining normal function

 

Sasha Wolf 08.02.2014 03:35

Teo Nesterov 07.02.2014 10:08

OK the hand is cool.
But giving it to some American soldier?
That's just a waste. I am against helping terrorists. He deserves to be shot in public, not to have his hand replaced.

  


First off...It never says the person is a Soldier, Or the fact its an American...adn the fact the surgery was done in Italy...hmm...might NOT..bear with me, therotically be american. Although your extreme hatred of military americans is obvious

Als o the man is from DENMARK

 

Blazkowicz Inc. 08.02.2014 00:38

Sorry for diverting from the main subject but I see many people obsessed with their idealistic anti/multicultural views.

View all comments (13)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us