Paralyzed Man Able to “Feel” Using Prosthetic Hand Directly Connected to Brain
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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created a prosthetic hand that “completes the circuit” between the brain and the artificial limb, granting the user a “sense of touch” that has already seen a paralyzed, 28-year-old man able to “feel” things using it.
The prosthetic hand was created by way of complex neural technologies developed under DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics project, and was tested after the man was blindfolded and researchers tested each of his mechanical fingers individually to see if he could differentiate between which of them were being touched. After he reported back his results with 100% accuracy, DARPA have determined that the limb has successfully restored both movement and sensation using the artificial hand, which inevitably opens the door for far more sophisticated prosthetic limbs in the future, which could prove to be revolutionary in regards to future treatment.
The “DARPA Arm,” pictured in 2011.
According to DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez, at one point the research team pressed two of the man’s fingers without telling him. “He responded in jest asking whether somebody was trying to play a trick on him,” Sanchez said, adding: “That is when we knew that the feelings he was perceiving through the robotic hand were near-natural.”
DARPA are looking at this breakthrough as a way in which the company can “open entirely new worlds” for those living with paralysis, though further information regarding the study is currently being withheld as it is being reviewed before its publication in a scientific journal.
This marks an incredible advancement in the field, and it is hoped that this technology will be made available to the general public in the future.