The last few years have seen a tremendous amount of progress when it comes to prosthetics. However, one limitation of these prosthetic limbs (if it is one) is the lack of sensation – clinching an object does not invoke a sense of touch since the limb is not connected to the nervous system.
Recently, scientists at The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Project Time have developed a new bionic hand that has sensors on the fingertips and connects to the nervous system of the amputee by implanting electrodes directly in two important nerves – median and ulnar, and deliver signals directly, thus enabling the person to feel the touch. Essentially, the limb is controlled by thought as well as receives touch signals from the hand sensors.
Feeling the touch/sensory signals is essential because the more sensory signals the amputee gets, the more likely the patient will fully accept and appreciate the limb.
The scientists are constantly improving and refining the interface for this limb and if all goes well, a full working model will be ready for testing in two years.