Researchers have created a prosthetic hand that gives their users the ability to feel where they are and how their fingers are positioned – a feeling known as proprioception. The headline may be in jest, but progress is real and can more effectively support amputees and, of course, use their prosthetics.
Refusing prostheses is a real problem for amputees, and many opt to simply live without these electronic or mechanical devices. because they can complicate as much as they simplify. Part of this is the simple fact that unlike their natural limbs, artificial limbs do not have any real sensation – or if there are any, that is far from the level that one had before.
Touch and temperature sensing are of course important, but for normal use, it's even more important to simply know where your extremity is and what it is doing. When you close your eyes, you can see where each digit is, how many you are holding, whether you are picking up a small or large object, and so on. This is currently not possible with a prosthesis, even if it has been integrated into the nervous system to provide feedback. This means that users need to be aware of what they are doing at all times. (That is, if the arm is not paying attention to you.)
This prosthesis, built by Swiss, Italian, and German neurologists and engineers, is described in a recent issue of Science Robotics. It attacks and adjusts the existing concept of transmitting touch information to the brain through electrodes fitted into the arm nerves to provide real-time feedback.
can provide both position feedback and tactile feedback simultaneously and in real time. The brain has no problem combining this information, and patients can process both types in real time with excellent results, "said Silvestro Micera of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in a press release.
It's the work of a decade this Being able to construct and demonstrate what can be of tremendous benefit A natural, intuitive understanding of the position of your hand, arm, or leg would probably make the prostheses much more useful and comfortable for their users.
Essentially, the robot hand guides It's quite difficult to actually re-create the proprioceptive pathways, which is why the team used the so-called sensory substitution instead, which uses other ways, such as the ordinary one Be emotion, as a way to represent different sensory modalities.
A simple example would be a machine that touched your arm at a different location, depending on where your hand is. In the case of this research, it's much finer, but it essentially presents positional data as touch data. It sounds weird, but our brains are really good at adapting to these kinds of things.
As evidence that two amputees who used the system were able to distinguish between four differently shaped objects they detected, eyes closed with 75 percent accuracy. Of course, coincidence would be 25 percent, which means that the sense of holding objects of different sizes will pierce loud and clear – clear enough for a prototype. Amazingly, the team was able to provide the existing paths with actual feedback and users were not too confused. Therefore, there is now a precedent for multimodal sensory feedback from an artificial limb.
The study has well-defined limitations, such as: The number and type of finger from which information could be transmitted and the granularity and nature of that data. And the installation process is still very invasive. Nonetheless, it is a pioneering effort: this kind of research is very iterative and global, and is progressing in small steps until the science of prosthetics has suddenly made great strides. And the people who use dentures will also make progress.