News / Health

Sensory Prosthetic Allows Amputee to Feel Sensation

Amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen wearing sensory feedback enabled prosthetic in Rome, March 2013. (Lifehand 2 / Patrizia Tocci)
Amputee Dennis Aabo Sørensen wearing sensory feedback enabled prosthetic in Rome, March 2013. (Lifehand 2 / Patrizia Tocci)
Jessica Berman
A Danish man is the first amputee in the world to have sensation in his artificial hand thanks to a prosthetic that was surgically wired to the nerves in his upper arm.  The accomplishment represents a tremendous leap forward for individuals with artificial limbs.  

Nine years ago, Dennis Aabo Sorensen lost his hand while launching fireworks.  Since then, he has used a prosthesis for grasping objects.  

Now, thanks a sensory-enhanced artificial device attached to the nerves in his upper arm, Sorensen has a bionic hand that can feel the objects he touches in real time.

“I could feel round things and hard things and soft things, and the feedback was totally new to me.  And suddenly when I was doing some movements; I could feel what I was doing instead of actually looking at what I was doing," said Sorensen.



Researchers in Italy and Switzerland developed the revolutionary feedback system last year.

The robotic-looking hand has sensors attached to the artificial tendons of each finger that control movement.  The fingers are connected to wires attached to four electrodes that were surgically implanted into what remains of Sorensen’s upper arm nerves.

The sensors detect how much force Sorensen is using to grasp objects.  A computer algorithm converts that information into a mild electrical impulse that his sensory nerves and brain can interpret.  The result is a prosthetic device that can feel.

In experiments in which Sorensen was blindfolded and wore earplugs, he was able to detect how strongly he was grasping the different objects he picked up, as well as their shape and smoothness.

Stanisa Raspopovic, of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Switzerland, was the study's lead researcher.  

“All of this was happening intuitively and without particular training, which is astonishing.  Why is that happening?  Because it is physiologically implausible, close to natural," said Raspopovic.

Researchers say a sensory-enhanced prosthetic is years away from being available to the public.  The next step, according to Raspopovic, involves fine-tuning the hand by making it fully portable and giving the wearer a finer sense of touch.  
     
The researchers describe their work in the journal Science Translational Medicine.  

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More