A paralyzed man has successfully tested a robotic hand that was wired directly into his brain, allowing to him to “feel” once again. The robotic hand was developed by John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, and forms part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) research project.
The man that successfully tested the robotic hand is 28 years old, and has suffered from paralysis for over a decade after sustaining a spinal cord injury. Electrodes from the hand were inserted into his brain’s sensory and motor cortexes, which allowed him to control it with thought, as well as sense when its fingers were being touched individually.
Sensors embedded into the robotic hand are able to detect any pressure applied to the fingers, which in turn create electronic signals that mimic touch sensations. To see how well this was working, researchers blindfolded the man, and a touch test determined that he was able to determine which finger was being touched with almost 100% accuracy.
The researchers also tricked the man by pressing two fingers simultaneously. This elicited a response from him – he asked if he was being tricked. At this point, researchers knew with certainty that what the man was feeling were near-natural sensations.
Similar developments in the area of prosthetic limbs are progressing rapidly, however providing the level of control needed to perform precise movements is proving difficult. This is because they lack feedback from signals traveling back to the brain.
The potential for seamless biotechnological restoration has been amply displayed by this research, and it has been achieved by wiring a sense of touch from a mechanical hand directly into the brain.
As a result, it's hoped that those who have lost limbs will not only be able to benefit from fully-functioning replacement limbs, but also be able to regain a level of control over them that can only be achieved with sensation.
Watch the video of this amazing technological advancement below:
Content Source: The Guardian