Bionic Finger Allows an Amputee to Sense the Feeling of Touch Again
Phantom hands and invisible touches have been the topic of thrillers and horror flicks of Hollywood from the 90’s but that is not what we are talking about here. we are talking about Dennis Aabo Sørensen, an amputee with a phantom hand that researchers were able to put a bionic finger on.
As a result, Sørensen was actually able to sense different types of surfaces as if he was touching the surface with his index finger although he doesn’t even have a hand.
Switzerland based Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) undertook the project and were successfully able to send sensory signals to the mind of the person. He was “able to feel smoothness and roughness in real-time with an artificial fingertip that was surgically connected to nerves in his upper arm.” Here’s what Sørensen has to say about his experience:
The stimulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand. I still feel my missing hand, it is always clenched in a fist. I felt the texture sensations at the tip of the index finger of my phantom hand.
The prosthetics research has been going on at EPFL for some time now and they have also tested the bionic finger on non-amputees by making them wear EEG caps. Interestingly, the non-amputees were also able to feel the same sensations.
In fact, EPFL says that they have figured they can trigger the same parts of their brains that their real fingers do.
This bionic finger could be leading the way to robots that can feel the sense of touch, accident survivors that will be able to live a whole life despite losing a hand and much more.