HOW RESEARCHES RESTORED THE SENSATION OF TOUCH TO AN AMPUTEE
LIFEHAND 2: sensors, electrodes and bionic arm give an amputee feeling again
The extraordinary team of researchers behind the LIFEHAND 2 project has accomplished a truly incredible feat: they successfully restored the sensation of touch to an amputee. The patient, Dennis Aabo Sørensen, lost his hand in 2004. Ten years later, in 2014, Sørensen regained feeling in his hand.
The LIFEHAND 2 team fashioned a prosthetic hand, called OpenHand, with special sensors to detect information related to touch. Tension-measurements from the hand’s artificial ligaments were converted into electrical signal; this signal was in turn translated into an impulse intelligible to sensory nerves.
To establish the connection between the OpenHand and Sørensen’s brain, researchers essentially hardwired his nerves; surgeons implanted ultra-thin, ultra-precise transneural electrodes into his arm, capable of relaying weak electrical signals directly to the nervous system. The hand’s impulse signal was delivered to the electrodes through wires, allowing the sensory information to makes its ascent to Sørensen’s nervous system.
This incredible device allowed Sørensen’s to “feel if it was soft or hard, round or square.” Although commercial availability of the LIFEHAND 2 may be far-off, this first step towards a sensory feedback-capable prosthetic is encouraging and illuminates the incredible work of a good team of engineers.
Learn more about the LIFEHAND 2 project here, and don’t miss the newest edition of the DirectIndustry eMagazine: robotics to discover more incredible robotics projects and products.