Tuesday, October 24, 2017
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A Prosthetic Hand that Feels Textures

Researchers have developed an electrical stimulation system capable of allowing the user to feel textures and relieving phantom pain. Photo courtesy of Case Western Reserve University.)
Researchers have developed an electrical stimulation system capable of allowing the user to feel textures and relieving phantom pain. Photo courtesy of Case Western Reserve University.)

Prosthetic limbs have many limitations. One of the challenges for users is not being able to distinguish between different textures. Researchers have now developed an electrical stimulation system that helps those who have lost limbs be able to feel different textures again. While many prosthetic limbs offer advanced mechatronics, they do not provide the texture sensations that assist with fine motor control.

The new system, which was developed by teams at Case Western Reserve University and the Louis Stokes Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, produced realistic touch sensations in the phantom hand of one patient using implanted peripheral nerve cuff electrodes that did not penetrate the nerve. The subject could even distinguish between two different textures in different places on the phantom limb. Equally important, his pronounced phantom pain almost completely disappeared.

Find out more in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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