Feeling bionic hand: amputee first to use bionic prosthesis

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Originally published on February 7, 2014

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Dennis Aabo Sørensen, from Denmark, is the first amputee in the world to have used a bionic hand that is able to restore his ability to feel.

According to reports, Sørensen severely wounded his left arm nine years ago in a fireworks accident. His arm was amputated and replaced with a prosthetic limb able to restore sensory feeling.

"It was quite amazing because suddenly I could feel something I had not been feeling for nine years," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

The hand uses electrodes connected to nerves in the patient's upper arm. From sensors attached to the tendons of each fingers, electrical signals are then transmitted to the patient's brain each time he grabs an object.

The sensors serve to understand the level of force the patient is performing when grasping something. Very precise stimulation is delivered to different sensory nerves in order to restore the sensory feeling into the nervous system.

According to reports, even while blindfolded and wearing earplugs, Sørensen was able to distinguish hard, soft, round and square objects with his artificial hand.

"The sensory feedback was incredible," Sørensen was quoted by the Telegraph as saying. "You can feel round things and hard things and soft things. The feedback was totally new to me, and suddenly when I was doing the movements I could feel actually what I was doing, instead of looking at what I was doing."

Sørensen is the only person so far to have tested the prosthetic hand.

Developed by Dr Silvestro Micera and a team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne along with the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy, the system could improve the function of prosthetic limbs and the life of other users.

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