Prosthetic arms have evolved in incredible ways in the past years. Robotic systems are now properly integrated and they are starting to resemble real hands more and more. While it is very difficult to recreate all the functions, scientists managed to do an excellent job.
Prosthetic hands can be used to pick up objects and hold them. However, it is a lot more complicated than using your actual hand. That is because the prosthetic hand is now able to send any signals towards the brain. However, this might change.
Feeling for your prosthetic hand
In order to bring some feeling for the prosthetic hand, a team of researchers from Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute started thinking about how they can improve the current system. Finally they arrived at a conclusion that was not that complicated. A small buzz might be the solution for this problem.
Therefore, the team of scientists decided to create their own robotic system. However, this one is able to send vibration to the actual muscles of the user’s hand. These would give to the amputees the illusion of feeling their hand.
The somehow false feeling is not just pleasant, but it is very useful as well. That is because the prosthetic hand becomes easier to use and it is much simpler to understand its grip and its position in space. The researchers had great results, and in some cases the participants were blindfolded, but still managed to realise the hand gestures.
“Establishing a sense of agency for these devices will help amputees intrinsically feel in control of their artificial limbs, a key aspect of user acceptance,” explained Cleveland Clinic’s Paul Marasco and his colleagues. The results of their study appeared in the Science Translational Medicine journal.