Electronic Skin “E-Dermis” Allows Amputees To Sense Touch & Pain Through Prosthetic Hand

a prosthetic hand shown with e-dermis on its fingertips.

The biggest benefit of a prosthetic hand is that it provides lost functionality to amputees. However, the one drawback of currently available prosthetics is that it does not allow the person wearing them to feel a sense of touch through their prosthetics, which means that they do not have the ability to sense whether they are touching a round object or something with sharp points. Thanks to scientists at Johns Hopkins University, this may become a thing of the past.

In order to restore a sense of normalcy to amputees, scientists at John Hopkins University are working on an electronic skin that allows the wearer to feel touch as well as pain. This skin, called e-dermis, sits on top of the fingers and is made of rubber and fabric embedded with sensors. These sensors act as nerve endings, and they send impulses back to the wearer’s peripheral nerves. The e-dermis, in a non-invasive way via the skin, creates a stream of tactile perception, thus allowing the wearer to feel sensations ranging between light touch and actual pain.

The e-dermis can be fitted on existing prosthetic hands and have existing wearers take care of it.

Why would registering pain through prosthetic hands be so important? Even though pain is uncomfortable and not enjoyable, it is very critical in helping the human body register danger and help it avoid harmful situations. Currently, the e-dermis can register touch and pain, and the team will continue to work on it to make it register temperature as well texture of objects.
Watch the video below to see how e-dermis works, and check out the source link to read more about the e-dermis.

Source: Johns Hopkins University via Interesting Engineering

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