Based on the reporting of Josh Rhoten, University of Colorado at Boulder, on Phys.org
Modern-day prosthetics are very helpful to amputees. They are tools that help them perform everyday tasks and activities. However, often these prosthetics are mere attachments, rather than integrated to the body like real limbs. This circumstance creates the challenge of making a prosthetic that is just as capable as the part it replaces.
Jacob Segil received a $200,000 contract from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a project he is leading at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Here, engineers are working to improve hand prosthetics by enhancing the sense of touch through fingertip sensors which nerve interfaces to allow patients to feel tactile sensations. With the help of these sensors, amputees can have better control of their prosthetic, helping the prosthetic to feel less detached, and more like their own body. These touch sensors are the missing link in the connection between the brain, the nervous system, and the prosthesis of the patient.
Segil argues that the most important part of a prosthesis is its psychological integration with the patient, as this will lead improve the amputee’s livelihood and experience. When hand prosthetics are built with fingertip sensors, psychological integration can become a new and beneficial reality for amputees.