Bionic hand gives Danish amputee sense of touch

Feb. 6, 2014 at 5:24 PM

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- A Danish amputee is the first in the world to feel with a sensory-enhanced prosthetic hand surgically wired to nerves in his upper arm, researchers said.

Nine years after an accident caused the loss of his left hand, Dennis Aabo Sorensen, 36, was fitted with a prosthetic hand developed by Swiss and Italian scientists containing revolutionary sensory feedback that allowed Sorensen to feel again -- in real time --while handling objects, Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne reported Thursday.

"The sensory feedback was incredible," Sorensen said. "I could feel things that I hadn't been able to feel in over nine years."

In a laboratory, wearing a blindfold and earplugs, Sorensen could tell how strongly he was grasping objects with the prosthetic hand, as well as their shape and consistency.

"When I held an object, I could feel if it was soft or hard, round or square," he said.

The research team enhanced the artificial hand with sensors that detect information about touch, sending a digitally refined signal through wires into four electrodes surgically implanted into what remains of Sorensen's upper arm nerves.

"This is the first time in neuroprosthetics that sensory feedback has been restored and used by an amputee in real-time to control an artificial limb," team leader Silvestro Micera said.

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