Prosthetic Hand Lets Amputees Feel Texture Of Objects

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Over the years, prosthetic hands are becoming more and more viable for people who lose their hands in accidents or were perhaps not born with one. Prosthetic limbs are great in that they help the users get back to daily routine operations. The one thing that most prosthetic limbs don’t do however, is allow the wearer to feel the texture of objects that they grip. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH have taken the prosthetic hand one step ahead by adding sensation and “feel” to the hand they have created. 

“Touch perception on the fingers and hand is essential for fine motor control, contributes to our sense of self, allows for effective communication, and aids in our fundamental perception of the world.” [1]
Turns out, sensation is not felt or generated by a hand but by a certain part of the brain. When a person lose their hand, they inherently lose the input that switches on those parts of the brain responsible for sensation. By sending electric signals by a computer into nerves in the user’s arm and eventually to a specific part of the brain, sensation or touch can be reactivated.
Igor Spetic, a man who lost his right hand in an industrial accident in 2005, says that he can see his arm hair raise when a cotton is brushed against his prosthetic hand.
another amputee wearing the prosthetic hand squeezing toothpaste on a toothbrushSince the amputees can now feel the texture of the object they are handling, they also know exactly how much pressure to apply to form their grip without damaging the object. With other prosthetic hands, gripping tomatoes and grapes meant creating juice instantly!
Currently, this arm can be tested and improved only in a lab setting, however, the team plans to create an implantable hand in the next five years so it could be tested at home. Detailed description of how this hand works was published in this article.

Watch the video to learn about all the research that has been going on to make this hand a success.

Source: CWRU via Gizmodo, Science Translational Medicine [1] 

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