Feeds

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

Wired prosthetic hand means we can rebuild him, temporarily

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.