Modern prostheses sport things like articulated fingers that can be controlled by picking up impulses from their wearer’s remaining nerves.But a bionic limb receiving commands is only half the picture. To be a true replacement, it should also be able to send sensations back to its wearer, to enable him to control it precisely.
And, in a study just published in Science Translational Medicine, a group of researchers led by Robert Gaunt, an engineer at the University of Pittsburgh, have taken an important step towards this goal.
Their paper describes a way of restoring sensation by using implanted electrodes to stimulate a patient’s brain directly. The patient in question is a 30-year-old man whose spinal cord was damaged in a car crash. He is not an amputee, but his injury means his brain and his hands can no longer communicate.
Read more: Prosthetic medicine | The Economist