Swiss researchers reveal prosthetic giving amputees sense of touch

GENEVA. KAZINFORM Researchers from the Lausanne-based university EPFL said Thursday they have developed a next-generation bionic hand that allows amputees to regain their sense of touch and the abilities to sense the limb's position in space.

EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) said the results of the study have been published in Science Robotics and are the result of 10 years' robotics research, Xinhua reports.

Researchers from EPFL, the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa and the A. Gemelli University Polyclinic in Rome developed the next-generation bionic hand.

"It enables amputees to regain a very subtle, close-to-natural sense of touch," EPFL said in a statement.

"The scientists managed to reproduce the feeling of proprioception, which is our brain's capacity to instantly and accurately sense the position of our limbs during and after movement - even in the dark or with our eyes closed," said the university.

The new device allows patients to reach out for an object on a table and to ascertain an item's consistency, shape, position and size without having to look at it.

The prosthesis has been successfully tested on several patients and works by stimulating the nerves in the amputee's stump.

The nerves can then provide sensory feedback to the patients in real time - almost like they do in a natural hand.

"These results show that amputees can effectively process tactile and position information received simultaneously via intraneural stimulation," said Edoardo D'Anna, EPFL researcher and lead author of the study.

EPFL said that other European research centers contributed to the study including the University of Cagliari (Italy), the University of Montpellier (France) and the University of Freiburg (Germany).

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