New technology allows a 28 year old spinal cord victim to feel sensation through a prosthetic hand. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created this prosthetic hand. Previously, the technology did not exist for prosthetic hands to provide a sense of touch like a real hand. At John Hopkins University a team of scientists implanted electrodes on the surface of the 28 year old man’s brain. The electrodes help the brain to receive what the prosthetic hand is feeling. Now, the patient has something to use that is much closer to a real hand than ever before.
“We’ve completed the circuit,” said DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez. “Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback from signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements. By wiring a sense of touch from a mechanical hand directly into the brain, this work shows the potential for seamless bio-technological restoration of near-natural function.”
With this technology, the patient had precise feeling in every digit on the prosthetic hand. Dr. Sanchez from Darpa had this to say,
“At one point, instead of pressing one finger, the team decided to press two without telling him,” Darpa program manager Justin Sanchez said. “He responded in jest asking whether somebody was trying to play a trick on him. That is when we knew that the feelings he was perceiving through the robotic hand were near-natural.” – sourced from Samuel Gibbs, theguardian.com
It’s fascinating to see how far along this technology has come. It would be amazing if a prosthetic hand could one day match or surpass the functionality of a real hand.
For more information about DARPA check out this website:
See the video below for more details about the project.