Paralyzed Man Successfully Given Prosthetic Hand That Can 'Feel'

Illustration for article titled Paralyzed Man Successfully Given Prosthetic Hand That Can 'Feel'

A 28 year old man who has been paralysed has been given a new sense of touch following a new breakthrough that saw electrodes places directly into the man’s brain.


The research and clinical trial has been carried out by DARPA, the US Military’s research agency. Essentially, the man (who has not been named) is now able to control his new hand and feel people touching it because of two sets of electrodes: one array on the motor cortex, the part of the brain which directs body movement, and one on the sensory cortex, which is the part of the brain which feels touch.

The prosthetic hand itself was developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory at John Hopkins University, and contains torque sensors that can detect when pressure is being applied to the fingers, and will generate an electrical signal containing this information to send to the brain.

Apparently a test was carried out where the man was blindfolded, and it he was able to figure out which finger was being touched with “nearly 100 percent accuracy” - and perhaps more impressively when the researchers touched two fingers at once without warning him, his brain could sense something was up, and he asked whether they were playing a trick on him.

It’s certainly impressive sounding technology - here’s hoping it can become standardised treatment for those who need it soon.

[DARPA via BoingBoing]

Image by DARPA

Illustration for article titled Paralyzed Man Successfully Given Prosthetic Hand That Can 'Feel'

This post originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.



“The bartender’s smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it. The antique arm whined as he reached for another mug. It was a Russian military prosthesis, a seven-function force-feedback manipulator, cased in grubby pink plastic. “You are too much the artiste, Herr Case.” Ratz grunted; the sound served him as laughter. He scratched his overhang of white-shirted belly with the pink claw. ‘You are the artiste of the slightly funny deal.’”

Bill Gibson, Neuromancer, 1983.