Researchers have created a prosthetic hand that stimulates nerves to help amputees feel their fingers again.
If the recent trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier is to be believed, having a robotic limb is pretty cool. That being the case, occasionally real life manages to produce something even niftier than the fictional realm of comics. For instance, while super powered arms are likely still a ways off, prosthetic limbs that can feel are on their way to becoming a common reality.
Researchers working with amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen, have developed a prosthetic hand that stimulates a person's nerves in such a way that it accurately simulates the sensation of touch that one might feel while using normal fingers. "I could feel things that I hadn't been able to feel in over nine years," said Sørensen, commenting on his experience with the mechanical hand.
The prosthetic is able to achieve this effect thanks to a series of electrodes embedded in Sørensen's arm that work in cooridination with touch sensors in the hand to stimulate his remaining nerves. The feeling produced by this process is so accurate that Sørensen was able to identify objects by touch alone. He was also able to control the strength of his grip and tell how hard or soft an object was without the aid of his sight or hearing. Sadly, this technology probably won't be available for wide scale use for several years. That said, the very fact that it exists is pretty freaking amazing.