New Bionic Prosthetic Allows User to “Feel”

I don’t know about you, but for me, the word “bionic” takes me to a world of sci-fi movies or Back to the Future’s version of 2010. But the latest in bionic technology is here and it is offering some very cool possibilities for people who use prosthetics.

Scientists have created a new bionic hand that allows its user to feel lifelike sensations in their fingers. Pretty cool, huh? The advance isn’t in the hand itself, but in the accompanying software and electronics. Here’s how it works, from the BBC:

[The research] team added sensors to the artificial hand which could detect and measure information about touch. Using computer algorithms, the scientists transformed the electrical signals they emitted into an impulse that sensory nerves could interpret.

During an operation in Rome, four electrodes were implanted onto nerves in the patient’s upper arm. These were connected to the artificial sensors in the fingers of the prosthetic hand, so allowing touch and pressure feedback to be sent direct to the brain.

Photo from LIFEHAND

Photo from LIFEHAND

The man who helped test the prototype, Dennis Aabo from Denmark, lost his hand nearly a decade ago. With the bionic hand, he could find and pick things up in the dark, and feel the shape and stiffness of objects. While the technology is still a prototype, the team is hoping to make it commercially available. They anticipate this is likely 10 years away… but it is on the horizon. To hear Dennis’ experience and see the hand in action, check out the video below.

Tell us what you think! Would you undergo surgery to try the bionic hand?

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