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Bionic Hand Wired To Nerves Can "Feel" When Touched

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the all-the-better-to-feel-you-with dept.

Medicine 42

An anonymous reader writes in with a breakthrough in prosthetics. "The first bionic hand that allows an amputee to feel what they are touching will be transplanted later this year in a pioneering operation that could introduce a new generation of artificial limbs with sensory perception. The patient is an unnamed man in his 20s living in Rome who lost the lower part of his arm following an accident, said Silvestro Micera of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. The wiring of his new bionic hand will be connected to the patient’s nervous system with the hope that the man will be able to control the movements of the hand as well as receiving touch signals from the hand’s skin sensors."

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Yay, he can... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935607)

Masturbate again...

Re:Yay, he can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936157)

Masturbate again...

That's something I'd be looking forward to if I had lost my arms. No joke.

Re:Yay, he can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936587)

I don't understand how the first post can be "Redundant".

you need feeling in a hand for that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42939741)

if you need feeling in your hand to enjoy that your doing it wrong

Re:Yay, he can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42939781)

fuck off, you ignorant piece of trailer park trash !!!

Re:Yay, he can... (1)

ppanon (16583) | about a year and a half ago | (#42941821)

I think you'd want to use the hand for other things for quite a while to make sure it never misconstrued signals and started squeezing very hard.

Re:Yay, he can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42942671)

Bionic Fap

Re:Yay, he can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42945631)

[bionic noise]

Re:Yay, he can... (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42944217)

I didnt realize it was the hand's sensory input that was vital to the experience.
or
Before it was the permanent equivalent of sitting on your hand to make it numb so it feels like the "stranger"

Old News (3, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935611)

Steve Austin did all this years ago

Re:Old News (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935637)

Stone Cold never ceases to amaze.

Re:Old News (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | about a year and a half ago | (#42940887)

Since technology gets better and cheaper as time goes on, shouldn't we now have the $600 Man, who could kick the original $6,000,000 mans ass?

inflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42945169)

But thanks to the Fed, there's continuous inflation, so he'd be the 6 Billion Dollar Man now

Outer Limits: Valerie 23 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935699)

Obligitory XKCD (4, Funny)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year and a half ago | (#42935915)

Obligitory XKCD [xkcd.com] . But this does start to open up the world of such things.

Re:Obligitory XKCD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935997)

-- this does start to open up the world of such things.

Oh, I see. You are a Linux user.

Re:Obligitory XKCD (1)

JohnRoss1968 (574825) | about a year and a half ago | (#42940895)

LMFAO

Re:Obligitory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42942643)

Case and point:
I just bought a VT-d board and CPU with the hopes that one day I can use KVM to virtualize windows without emulating the GPU.

p.s. XEN is not linux.

No it can't (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42935917)

Bionic Hand Wired To Nerves Can "Feel" When Touched

The first bionic hand that allows an amputee to feel what they are touching

vs

The wiring of his new bionic hand will be connected to the patient’s nervous system with the hope that the man will be able to control the movements of the hand as well as receiving touch signals from the hand’s skin sensors.

So no, it can't. It might work, but they're not sure. Let's wait until they've actually attached the damn thing..

Re:No it can't (5, Interesting)

DaemonDan (2773445) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936095)

Previous models of this same device did actually provide some sensation. "An earlier, portable model of the hand was temporarily attached to Pierpaolo Petruzziello in 2009, who lost half his arm in a car accident. He was able to move the bionic hand’s fingers, clench them into a fist and hold objects. He said that he could feel the sensation of needles pricked into the hand’s palm." (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/a-sensational-breakthrough-the-first-bionic-hand-that-can-feel-8498622.html) So they have pretty good reason to hope that it will provide some feeling at least.

Did he ask for this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936039)

Curious minds want to know. Did he ask for this?

Luke (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936063)

I am your father

This guy's luck sucks (3, Funny)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936127)

No hand AND no name?

Re:This guy's luck sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936297)

Oh, that is a misunderstanding, Mr. Un is one of plenty Un-named persons in Italy. The special thing about him is his handlessness.

Re:This guy's luck sucks (2)

CByrd17 (987455) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936301)

His name is withheld to protect the future of the Rebellion.

Re:This guy's luck sucks (0)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936347)

Obviously Cool Hand Luke :)

Transplanted? (2)

Captoo (103399) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936289)

"... will be transplanted later this year ..."

Transplanted? Really? Who's the donor?

Re:Transplanted? (2)

zindorsky (710179) | about a year and a half ago | (#42937437)

Luke Skywalker.

Re:Transplanted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42953691)

"... will be transplanted later this year ..."

Transplanted? Really? Who's the donor?

Steve Austin

Do7l (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936431)

That they sidEline See... The number

Hand Hack (1)

drunk_punk (2841507) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936471)

"Why are you punching yourself?!" ...to a whole other level...

Re:Hand Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42939099)

There was a Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode that explored that very concept.

Pretty well done, too.

Missing some details (5, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42936539)

The article is missing some details, so I'll fill in a bit based on what I know of conventional and research-level prosthetics.

What it appears they are going to do is implant some wires into the man's residuum. These wires - electrodes - will have two purposes:
  1. 1. To pick up muscle contractions or muscle-control firings in the nerves
  2. 2. To stimulate the sensory nerves in the same general viscinity

In conventional motor-driven, upper-limb prostheses, particularly below-the-elbow, the control signals are measured using surface EMGs (ElectroMyoGraphic sensors). These aren't measuring nerve firings, per se, but rather the electrical activity of actual muscle contractions (in the forearm). This is done because the actual motor nerves are pretty tiny, and the signal in them is fairly small. The muscle, on the other hand, is much easier to locate, and it acts as a natural amplifier of what the nerve tells it to do. It's the difference between probing a tiny signal wire coming out of your MP3 player and picking up the sound that is resonating in the speaker housing.

The downside of using surface EMGs is that, by measuring electrical potentials across several cm of skin and muscle, it is hard to pick up on individual muscle contractions. So, it is generally not possible to pick up on just the muscle that flexed/extended the index finger. The best you can usually do is pick up on the flexion/extension signals for all finger muscles or the wrist. Another downside is that the EMGs are usually mounted to the socket - the molded plastic or composite structure that mechanically interfaces the prosthesis to the residuum. As the wearer moves around and sweats, the EMGs can shift over the skin surface, which degrades the signal strength and specificity.

By implanting EMG electrodes under the skin, you can mostly eliminate the problems of the having the electrodes shifting, because they'll move with the tissue they are measuring. You may also be able to get more localized measurements (crosstalk is a difficult problem), and so get more than 1-2 channels of control input. This approach is not exactly new, but neither is it widespread. Amputees are, naturally, a bit wary of invasive procedures - they don't want to risk screwing up what they have left. The other downside is that, at least in this case, they are opting for transdermal electrodes - wires poking through the skin, which could have long-term drawbacks. Some work is being done with fully implanted EMGs that can be probed using near field technologies - RFID in your muscles - but that is still a work in progress.

Stimulating nerves to provide sensory feedback is, likewise, not exactly new, but hasn't made it into clinical practice. There have been anecdotes about patients who have undergone targeted nerve reinnervation who, when you poke them in a certain place on their pectoral muscle, report "feeling" a sensation in their lost hand. Again, going to implanted electrodes allows you the chance to have must greater specificity.

Aside from the invasive nature of the procedure, my main concern with this project is its longevity. How long can the electrodes exist within the body? Will you still be able to get or produce a worthwhile signal after 1 month, 6 months, 10 years? The prosthesis can be repaired and replaced over time, but tinkering around with the electrodes may not be feasible. I also have some concerns about the durability of the sensing elements in the prosthetic hand, but that is more straightforward engineering than anything else.

Re:Missing some details (1, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | about a year and a half ago | (#42937135)

There is another drawback. Yes it can be used to give amputees sensation in their artificial limbs. But I'm sure there are people out their looking forward to this as a method of torture without physical damage. So we've got yet another technological log to throw on the dual-use bonfire, along with screwdrivers for turning screws or picking locks, guns for hunting or killing, bittorrent for file distribution or illegal copying, etc.

Re:Missing some details (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42938203)

I'm pretty sure there are much easier ways of doing that. For example, keep someone awake indefinitely. Restrain them so that they cannot move indefinitely. Put the person in isolation indefinitely in a rubber cell. Those don't sound so bad, but after a week of that you'd understand that it is very bad.

So..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936627)

The Borg really WERE invented by the Swiss. Maybe that's why it sounds Sweedish.

May the force be with you... And also with you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42936907)

All I can picture is the bionic hand that Luke Skywalker got at the end of The Empire Strikes Back... I can just see the pins poking at Luke's hand....

l8r,
cj

Bionic Fetishes (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year and a half ago | (#42937529)

Given this new technology, one can only imagine to new types of pron that will come out. This could spell the end for STD's?

Obligatory Dune (1)

srussia (884021) | about a year and a half ago | (#42938221)

REVEREND MOTHER:
(...) Now the itching becomes burning... heat, upon heat, upon heat.

PAUL (whispering):
It burns.

Tomorrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42938711)

... comes today.

Summary Double-Take (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | about a year and a half ago | (#42939729)

The patient is an unnamed man in his 20s living in Rome,

So am I the only one who read this part of the summary and saw it as "The patient is an unarmed man in his 20s...."?

He had one shot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42953697)

It gives a whole new meaning to "the right to bear arms".

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