A 28-year-old US citizen, is now able to feel sensation and control his arm with the help of a prosthetic hand and by using the electrodes implanted in his brain, scientists say.
The 28-year-old man was left paralysed for more than a decade after a severe spinal chord injury. Scientists working at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Howard County, Maryland, implanted electrodes into the patient’s brain. After the surgery the man could move his previously paralysed hand and arm and he could also tell which of the fingers on the prosthetic hand was being touched by people, researchers reported.
On Sept. 11 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) held a conference during which the new technology was showcased by the Revolutionizing Prosthetics team.
During the demonstration, the team decided to play a trick on the man. Without telling him they pressed two of the fingers on the prosthetic hand instead of only pressing one. According to Justin Sanchez, a program manager at DARPA, the 28-year-old man immediately noticed that more than one finger was being pressed. At that point, scientists realised that the patient perceived almost natural-like sensations through the prosthetic hand.
The world of prosthetics has definitely come a long way. 60 minutes, an American television program, reported in 2012 that people would soon be able to control prosthetic limbs by only using their minds.
Previously another prosthetic arm was developed at the and DEKA Research Development Corporation, funded by the Revolutionary Prosthetics program. The purpose of the DEKA arm was to help people with upper extremity amputations gain their mobility and sensation back.
“Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise […]. 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,” stated Sanchez on Sept. 11.
The new feature of the robotic limb, that was never used in the past, is the ability to send a direct and accurate response to the user’s brain from extremely sensitive sensors located on the fingers. Sanchez added that without getting feedback from the signals that reach the brain, the level of control needed in performing precise movements would be hard to achieve.
Image Source: photos.the-scientist