darpa-prosthetic-hand-tactile-sensation@2xSometimes prosthetics are used for aesthetics reasons. Sometimes they’re also functional as it allows its wearer to walk or to hold object, but unfortunately for the most part, they don’t actually allow the wearer to feel like they would with an actual limb. However over at John Hopkins University, that will soon change.

By using DARPA-developed neural technologies, researchers at the university have crafted a mechanical prosthetic hand that can actually allow its wearer to feel. They tested it out with a 28-year old patient who reportedly was left paralyzed due to spinal injuries. In their tests, they blindfolded the patient and he was able to 100% successfully tell which mechanical finger was being touched.

This is taking mind-controlled prosthetics to the next level. As pointed out by Gizmag, previously there were prosthetics that could be controlled by the mind, but it was typically a one-way street. However by allowing the prosthetic to actually “feel”, it comes pretty close to having an actual hand that can touch, feel, grip, and so on.

This is thanks to the built-in sensors that can detect when pressure is applied, which is then converted into electrical signals that are sent to the brain that are interpreted as touch. How long it will take before more prosthetics like this can be offered to amputees remains to be seen, but we like the direction they are headed at.

Filed in Medical. Read more about darpa.

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