Prosthetic limbs are in widespread use but, particularly when it comes to hands, these are not always used to their full potential due to a lack of sensation and dexterity in the prosthetic.
However the Switzerland-based École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is working on a new ‘smart’ prosthetic that connect directly to the nervous system of the user, potentially returning mobility and perhaps even sensation to the person it has been connected to. Tests have been conducted with a prosthetic that has not been connected to a user and these tests showed that sensations and enhanced control are possible.
Head of EPFL’s Translational Neural Engineering Laboratory Silvestro Micera presented the results of the four-week clinical trial that used “intraneural electrodes implanted into the median and ulnar nerves” at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, saying “We could be on the cusp of providing new and more effective clinical solutions to amputees in the next years.”
Next on the list is another four-week trial that will see an advanced prosthetic connected to a patient which, Engadget reports, should see the user experiencing sensations from a larger portion of the bionic hand.