Thanks to modern technology prosthetic limbs have come a long way – those once awkward, uncomfortable and limited in functionality – now a new breakthrough with a robotic prosthetic, technology has been able to restore the sense of touch!
Researchers at University of Melbourne in collaboration with University of Wollongong and St Vincent’s Hospital and Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery are developing a robotic arm which has the ability to allow full movement and sensation to the user.
A prototype is currently in the process of development that will use 3D printed microchips to read the electrical signals in the brain and pass movement messages via nerves and muscles to the robotic arm.
Ultimately, there is hope the signals travel in the other direction adding a sensory element so that the user can also “feel” sensations like strength and pressure.
Researcher involved in the program, Professor Peter Choong, explained the robotic arm will be a mechanical device that responds to electrical signals from the brain.
What this means is the prosthetic arm will literally be able to turn thoughts into actions.
“We imagine the move and it happens… What we’re asking our scientists to do is find ways of connecting the disconnected, loose ends to who your trying to call, the muscle or the machine, and the program it to respond,” says Professor Choong.
This robotic prosthetic will be life changing for many amputees, helping restore their sense of feeling and enhance limb function.
Implanted chips and electrodes as conduits will pass the message back and forth between the arm and brain and use the recipients own nerves and tissue to have the robotic prosthetic perform in a normal way.
The program aims to help enhance the lives of people who need prosthesis and give them some hope to gain a sense of feeling which will help with a more fulfilling life.