WASHINGTON – Scientists are moving closer to an artificial hand that can feel: In an experiment, implanted electrodes allowed some amputees to tell by touch how gently to grasp, letting them pluck fruit without crushing it.
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Two amputees tell researchers at Case Western Reserve University that wiring some of their remaining nerves to a robotic arm feels more like grasping objects with their own hand than with a tool.
One of them, Igor Spetic of Madison, Ohio, says that it "feels like normal sensation."
An unexpected benefit of the experiment: Researchers tell the journal Science Translational Medicine that phantom pain both men have felt since losing their limbs in industrial accidents has nearly disappeared.
It will take years of additional research before robotic hands really let people feel what they touch.