Feeds

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

Wired prosthetic hand means we can rebuild him, temporarily

The next step in data security

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.