The idea behind prosthetics is that they let amputees live their lives more normally. For example, an amputee without a leg might find it hard to walk, but giving them a prosthetic will make their lives a bit easier. However, the downside to prosthetics is that it will never, ever feel like a real limb.
Amputees also experience phantom pain where it feels like pain coming from a part of the body that is no longer there. However, thanks to the work of researchers led by ETH Zurich, published in Nature Medicine, they have modified a prosthetic in which it comes with sensors and electrodes that will allow amputees to “feel” their feet and knees.
The prosthetic they use is the Ossur prosthetic leg which already comes with a microprocessor and an angle sensor. They then modified the insole with seven sensors in the foot which are used to transmit signals in real-life. All that information will be sent to an implant based in the patient’s tibial nerve which allows the brain to interpret those signals as feedback.
This means that it will make the wearer think that they are feeling sensations in their knee and feet, which is said to help increase the wearer’s confidence when using the prosthetic and in turn makes it a less strenuous process compared to traditional prosthetics. This isn’t available for purchase yet but the researchers are hoping that with additional research and testing, they’ll be able to bring it to the market in the future.