Brain Controlled Prosthetic Hand Restores Sense of Touch
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
In what could help paralysed people to sense what they are holding, researchers from US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency's Revolutionising Prosthetics have designed a prosthetic hand that directly connects to the brain. The hand, they claimed, enabled a 28-year-old man to feel sensations who was paralysed for more than a decade due to a spinal cord injury.
The device has electrode arrays that were placed in the man’s sensory cortex, the brain region responsible for identifying tactile sensations such as pressure. The team also placed arrays on his motor cortex that is responsible for directing body movements. This arrangement allowed a sense of touch from the mechanical hand to the brain. The man was also able to control his hand with his thoughts.
The hand has advanced torque sensors that detects pressure on its fingers and convert those sensations into electrical signals. During the experiment researchers blindfolded the man and touched his fingers after which he was able to identify which finger was being touched.