A team of researchers has developed an algorithm which can be utilized to implement uninterrupted sensation into prosthetics.
When an individual loses a limb through accidents or medical problems, it is not just the loss of functionality which can be psychologically damaging and cause adaptation issues -- it is the loss of the sense of touch.
Sensations help us use our hands, feet, and limbs effectively, such as when grasping fragile objects, ascertaining how much pressure we need to apply to grip, and they also help us respond to our environments, including helping us judge how to walk on surfaces with different conditions and textures and alerting us to potentially hazardous objects.
Today's prosthetics rarely include any feedback for users to regain their sense of touch. However, scientists from the University of Illinois have been working to change that.
These currents stimulate nerves with mild electrical feedback, and together with a control algorithm, can grant prosthetics users steady feelings of sensation when in use.
"We're giving sensation back to someone who has lost their hand," said Aadeel Akhtar, an M.D./Ph.D student and lead author of the paper describing the research. "The idea is that we no longer want the prosthetic hand to feel like a tool, we want it to feel like an extension of the body."
"Commercial prosthetics don't have good sensory feedback," the scientist added. "This is a step toward getting reliable sensory feedback to users of