New Technology Gives 'Feeling' to Prosthetic Arms

New Technology Gives 'Feeling' to Prosthetic Arms

A new way to provide sensation and natural hand movement in a prosthetic arm improves a person's ability to control the arm, researchers say.

Mental Health Does Not Come With A Manual, It Comes With Friends & Family Support That Never Gives Up!
Join now

Led by Cleveland Clinic researchers, the team used what they described as "small but powerful robots" to vibrate specific muscles to "turn on" the sensation of movement. This allowed people with a prosthetic arm to feel that their fingers and hands were moving.

It made the bionic arm feel more like an integrated part of the person's body, the researchers reported.

"By restoring the intuitive feeling of limb movement -- the sensation of opening and closing your hand -- we are able to blur the lines between what the patients' brains perceived as 'self' versus 'machine,'" study leader Paul Marasco said in a Cleveland Clinic news release. He's head of the clinic's Laboratory for Bionic Integration.

Able-bodied people sense movement unconsciously, the researchers explained. The brain gets feedback and makes adjustments -- keeping you from reaching too far or not far enough, for instance.

However, people with an amputated limb lose that brain connection and can't control their prosthesis without looking at it constantly.

The new technology restores some sense of limb movement and control without visual monitoring, the researchers said.

In tests on six people, the prosthetic arm enabled them to achieve complex types of grips to do specific tasks as well or better than able-bodied people, the researchers said.

"When you make a movement and then you feel it occur, you intrinsically know that you are the author of that movement and that you have a sense of control or 'agency' over your actions," Marasco said. "People who have had an amputation lose that feeling of control, which leaves them feeling frustrated and disconnected from their prosthetic limbs."

The technology would help patients "re-establish their sense of agency over their prosthetics," he said, allowing them to feel more in control.

"These findings have important implications for improving human-machine interactions," Marasco added. "[They] bring us closer than ever before to providing people with amputation with complete restoration of natural arm function."

The Internet's Most Trusted Source For Mental Health Information
Sign up

The next step, he said, is to expand the technology to help people who have lost a leg or have movement problems caused by stroke or other conditions.

Results of the research were published March 14 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

More information

The Amputee Coalition of America has more on prosthetics.


Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


Related Content

Freedom From OCD: An Original Series on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Freedom From OCD: An Original Series on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

It is estimated over 1.2% of the adult population wrestles with Obsessive-Compul...

Read more
Freedom From OCD - Official Trailer
Freedom From OCD - Official Trailer

An original 6-episode series on obsessive-compulsive disorder, available instant...

Read more
A Young Mother's Addiction Led To Death & Her Obituary Struck An International Chord
A Young Mother's Addiction Led To Death & Her Obituary Struck An International Chord

Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir died on Sunday, October 7. While her death was unexpect...

Read more
Why Are Children In Class Being Wrongly Labelled As Having ADHD So Frequently?
Why Are Children In Class Being Wrongly Labelled As Having ADHD So Frequently?

Parents worried about their child falling behind academically because they are b...

Read more
The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think
The Real Causes Of Anxiety & Depression Might Not Be What You Think

Across the Western world today, if you are depressed or anxious and you go to yo...

Read more
Companies Are Opening Their Doors To Talent With Autism
Companies Are Opening Their Doors To Talent With Autism

Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Pauley thought he had it all figured out when ...

Read more