Saturday, December 07, 2013

New artificial, bionic hands start to get real feelings

This article features a new prosthetic bionic hand that is now capable of using measurements from 20 sensor points to control the grip force of its digits.  The sensor data is linked directly to the sensory nerves of the patient's forearm!  The key to making this device work is an instrument known as a cuff electrode. While these electrodes have been under development for decades for use as stimulators for the optic nerve, it has been difficult to get them to reliably stimulate axons for extended periods of time.  Because nerves have a complex cross section where individual channels exchange members continuously along their length. When multiple cuffs are eventually used on the same nerve, this particular feature of nerve bundles will come in handy because it provides a way to target different axons at different points in the nerve.  It appears that the nerves can handle this seeming trauma because the two patients outfitted with these devices have shown good performance now for 18 months.


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