Bionic fingertips help amputees feel textures again

Bionic fingertips help amputees feel textures again

Photo by Flickr

There is no doubt that there have been some amazing advances in prosthetic limbs in recent years. For instance, as of 2014, prosthetic hands which gave amputees the ability to react sensitively to what they “felt” were a fact.

But the developments do not stop here. Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology used the 2014 research as a base for the development of a bionic finger which allows amputees to feel textures again.

The results of this research were published in an article on eLife, and they are definitely a breakthrough.

In order to make the amputee, Denis Sørensen, feel textures, researchers connected the artificial fingertip to electrodes that were surgically implanted in his upper left arm. Following this, the bionic fingertip was hooked up to a machine that controlled its movements.

When the fingertip would move over different pieces of material it would generate an electrical signal which was then translated into electrical spikes delivered to Sørensen‘s nerves. The patient was reportedly able to distinguish between different surfaces 96% of the time.

In an article published in EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) Sørensen declared: “The simulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand. I still feel my missing hand, it is always clenched in a fist. I felt the texture sensations at the tip of the index finger of my phantom hand.”

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Caroline Parker has a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from the University of Bucharest. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in the same field. She specializes in gender issues, ethnic minorities, and has a passion for literature, but she loves to find out more about any subject she comes across. When she is not busy with her studies, she is attending conferences, seeing plays which deal with contemporary issues in society, traveling, taking photos for her Instagram account, and watching beauty related vlogs. She aims to become a published writer and to pursue a Ph.D. is the field of gender studies.