Nerve Stimulation Restored Sense of Touch to Arm Amputees

Direct stimulation of the nervous system produced realistic sensations of touch in two arm amputees, researchers report.

Both men lost their arms after traumatic injuries. They received implanted devices containing electrodes that were attached to the nerves of the arm. These nerves would normally carry signals to and from the hand.

“If you want to create a dexterous hand for use in an amputee or a quadriplegic patient, you need to not only be able to move it, but have sensory feedback from it,” said researcher Sliman Bensmaia. He’s a neuroscientist and associate professor of organismal biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago.

“To do this, we first need to look at how the intact hand and the intact nervous system encodes this information, and then, to the extent that we can, try to mimic that in a neuroprosthesis [a device that supplants or supplements the input/output of the nervous system],” Bensmaia explained in a university news release.

The paper was published Oct. 26 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

In earlier related research, Bensmaia and colleagues said a paralyzed man was able to experience the sense of touch through a robotic arm he could control with his brain. In that case, the electrode array was implanted in the areas of the brain responsible for hand movements and touch.

That paper was published Oct. 13 in Science Translational Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about amputation.

Source: HealthDay

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