For the first time, people with amputated limbs will be able to experience the feeling of touch thanks to a mind-controlled prosthesis. A recent study describes three patients from Sweden who are already using this technology in their daily lives.
One of them is named Rickard Normark. He says it’s hard to describe what it feels like. The prosthesis is used from morning to evening and gradually you get used to it.
In the past few years, patients with prosthetic hands have begun to be able to feel touch. This is a new concept of artificial limbs, called neuromuscular-skeletal prostheses, as described by lead researcher Max Ortiz Catalan.
“We have an implant that is embedded in the bone and is mechanically fixed using osseointegration. Essentially, it is an extension of the skeleton to which you can attach the arm. You can put electrodes in the nerves and muscles, taking the signals coming from them.”
The new prostheses differ from the others in that they have a direct connection to the nerves, muscles, and skeleton. They are controlled by the mind and give the impression that the missing limb remains in its place. This is possible due to the stimulation of nerves that were connected to the arm before amputation.
There are more than a million amputees in the world. As a result, the task is to develop a widely available product for the maximum number of these people.