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.”