Protoype bionic hand gives amputees a real sense of touch

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A man who lost his left hand in a fireworks accident can feel things for the first time in nine years using a prototype prosthetic hand.

In blindfolded tests, Dennis Sørensen holds objects in the hand, which was designed to interact with his nervous system, and senses whether they’re hard or soft.

A digital signal is sent through four electrodes implanted into what remains of the ulnar and median nerves in his upper arm to give him a sense of touch.

Biomedic Dr Thomas, whose research group at Germany’s Freiburg University developed the electrodes, explained how the technology works:

“The hand has several sensors attached to each tendon of each finger and we can use these sensors to understand the level of force the patient was performing while grasping an object and we use this force information to deliver very precise stimulation to the various sensory nerves in order to restore this real-time sensory feeling into the nervous system,” said Stieglitz.

36-year-old Sørensen descirbed the sensory feedback he felt as “amazing”:

“The first time they turned it on and they worked with the news hand it was amazing because suddenly I could feel things that I haven’t been able to in many years and it was kind of, you can feel round things and hard things and soft things, and that was quite amazing,” he said.

The next step is to fine-tune the technology and develop a portable hand -suitable for everyday use.

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