Feeds

First man/machine nerve grafts restore amputee's sense of touch

Wired prosthetic hand means we can rebuild him, temporarily

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

After years of research and hours of gruelling surgery, scientists have successfully attached sensors from a prosthetic hand to human nerve tissue to allow the device to give its wearer a sense of touch.

A prosthetic hand with a sense of touch

Lucky Dane gets to feel balls again

"The sensory feedback was incredible," reported the test subject, Danish amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen. "I could feel things that I hadn't been able to feel in over nine years. When I held an object, I could feel if it was soft or hard, round or square."

A team for Swiss and Italian scientists added a feeling of touch by measuring the amount of movement needed to register sensation using artificial tendons and converting that into data that was refined into a signal human nerve sensors could understand. During a five-hour operation four electrodes were grafted onto the ulnar and median nerves in Sørensen's upper arm to enable the sense of touch.

"We were worried about reduced sensitivity in Dennis' nerves since they hadn't been used in over nine years," says Stanisa Raspopovic, first author of the research paper about the operation published in the latest edition of edition of Science Translational Medicine.

19 days of testing were required to ensure incoming electronic signals would be properly recognized by the subject's nerves. But the system worked better than expected and the hand's fingertips were eventually capable of relaying accurate touch data back to the Dane, allowing him to feel from a prosthetic for the first time since losing his hand in a fireworks accident nine years ago.

Sadly Sørensen will have to give up the touchy-feely device and go back to his normal prosthetic now that the experiment is over, but he said he was happy to take part in the experiment and was looking forward to new developments.

He recounted that after losing his hand a doctor told him "there are two ways you can view this. You can sit in the corner and feel sorry for yourself. Or, you can get up and feel grateful for what you have. I believe you'll adopt the second view."

"He was right," says Sørensen. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.