Amputee Feels in Real-Time with Sensory-Enhanced Prosthetic Hand

Nine years after an accident caused the loss of his left hand, Dennis Aabo Sørensen of Denmark can now feel objects in real-time with a sensory-enhanced prosthetic hand. While blindfolded, Sørensen can grasp objects intuitively and identify what he is touching. The breakthrough sensory feedback technology was developed by Silvestro Micera and his team from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). Micera and his team enhanced the artificial hand with sensors that detect information about touch. This was done by measuring the tension in artificial tendons that control finger movement and turning this measurement into an electrical current. Using computer algorithms, the scientists transformed the electrical signal into an impulse that sensory nerves can interpret. The sense of touch was achieved by sending the digitally refined signal through wires into four electrodes that were surgically implanted into what remains of Sørensen's upper arm nerves. "This is the first time in neuroprosthetics that sensory feedback has been restored and used by an amputee in real-time to control an artificial limb," says Micera.