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Bionic hand gives amputees a new sense of touch

Thursday, February 06, 2014 - 02:12

Feb. 5 - The first prosthetic limb to give wearers sensory feedback has been described as ''amazing'' by an amputee who has just tested the device for the first time. The prototype hand is being developed by researchers in Switzerland and Italy, to replicate the sensation of touch for amputees with mechanical limbs. Jim Drury has more.

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For the first time in nine years Dennis Aabo Sørensen experiences feeling in his left hand. UPSOT: SORENSEN SAYS 'Soft' Having lost his lower arm in a fireworks accident, the Danish father of three has regained his sense of touch, through this revolutionary prototype prosthetic. Electrodes in the prosthetic hand are tied in with nerves in Sorensen's upper arm, forming an electrical connection between the prosthetic and his brain. That connection enables Sorenson to feel the weight and judge the dimensions of objects he's holding, even when blindfolded. UPSOT: SORENSEN SAYS 'Hard' The prosthetic research was led by neurologist Silvestro Micera from Swiss technological institute, EPFL. SOUNDBITE (English) SILVESTRO MICERA, PROFESSOR AT EPFL AND SANT'ANNA SCHOOL OF ADVANCED STUDIES (SSSA), SAYING: "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." For Sorenson, it required a surgical procedure in Rome last year. Ultra-thin transneural electrodes were implanted into nerves in his arm. The hand was then attached to the electrodes every day for a week, forming a link from the prosthetic to the brain. Sorensen says the results are stunning. He is the first person to regain sensory feeling in a false limb. SOUNDBITE (English) DENNIS AABO SØRENSEN, AMPUTEE, SAYING: "The first time they turned it on and they worked with the new 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." UPSOT: BIONIC HAND Emboldened by the results, the team has removed the electrodes Dennis's hand, as they begin work on miniaturising and fine-tuning the sensory technology. Delighted by his role in the trial, Dennis hopes to be first in line when a bionic arm eventually becomes available.

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Bionic hand gives amputees a new sense of touch

Thursday, February 06, 2014 - 02:12

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