Robotic Hand That Restores Sense of Touch Developed

by Rajashri on Sep 13 2009 1:33 PM

Swedish scientists have created the first robotic hand to give amputees a sense of touch.

When pressed against an object the 40 sensors in the Smarthand get activated. It also has four motors, which move the thumb and fingers.

They stimulate nerves in the arm to activate the appropriate part of the brain. This allows patients to feel objects they are holding, reports Sky News.

"It's a feeling I have not had in a long time," said Robin af Ekenstam, the first amputee to try the hand.

"When I grab something tightly I can feel it in the fingertips. It's strange since I don't have them any more! It's amazing," he added.

The motors are connected to nerves in the arm that once moved Robin's real digits. Thanks to the "hand", he's able to pick up a plastic water bottle, without crushing it, and pour himself a drink.

Professor Goran Lundborg, a surgeon at Malmo University Hospital, said the artificial hand was a significant advance.

"If you find the right spot the correct areas of the brain cortex will be activated. If you put pressure on the index finger of the artificial hand then the index finger area of the brain will be activated," he said.

The research is funded by the European Commission.