Mind-Controlled Artificial Arm to Help Restore Touch Sense
A new "mind-controlled" prosthetic arm can allow amputees to regain a sense of touch and move through their daily lives more easily, a Swedish research team said.
Unlike conventional arm prostheses, which can be uncomfortable and difficult to maneuver, the new one has direct connections into the bone, muscle, and nerves in the remaining portion of the natural arm, the German News Agency reported. The new arm has been developed by researchers at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The Tech Xplore website cited researcher Max Ortiz-Catalan as saying\: "This connection means the arm can operate much more precisely. The most novel advance, though, is that the prosthesis allows people to feel what the hand is touching."
He also explained that electrodes are implanted into the arm's muscles and nerves. They serve to relay signals, in both directions, between the brain and the prosthesis.
Those signals are interpreted by a small control system embedded into the prosthesis, using sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms which allow it to perceive pressure levels against the hand.
According to Catalan, the technology is only available in Sweden, and the hope is that it will be more widely available within a couple years. The researchers are also working on a similar leg prosthesis, which they plan to implant for the first time later this year.