In First, Bionic Hand Can Feel

Sensors send real-time feedback to brain
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2014 2:22 AM CST
Updated Feb 6, 2014 4:21 AM CST
For First Time, Bionic Hand Can Feel
Dennis Aabo, who lost his left hand in a fireworks accident a decade ago, shows the sensory feedback-enabled prosthesis he is testing in Rome.   (AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia)

In an amazing leap forward for prosthetics, a Danish man has become the first person ever to feel something with a bionic hand. The hand contained sensors directly connected to nerves in the upper arm of Dennis Aabo, whose left hand was blown off in a fireworks accident nine years ago, LiveScience reports. Over a month of tests, Aabo, who was sometimes blindfolded, was able to feel lifelike sensations in the hand and determine the size of objects that he picked up. He says the hand was "amazing."

The ability to send sensory feedback to the brain is an exciting breakthrough, experts in the field say. "This technology would enable the user to know how firmly they are gripping an object, which is vital for handling fragile objects—imagine picking up an egg without any feeling in your fingers," a bioengineering expert tells the BBC. More extensive trials of the technology will follow and it will probably be years before the technology becomes more widely available. Because of safety restrictions, Aabo had to have a second operation to remove the sensors when the month of testing was over. (Read more prosthetics stories.)

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