Health / Medicine / Robotics / Science

I, robot

“What shall I post about?” I thought. “Robots are cool. Can I find any news about robots?”

Well, sort of! The first thing I stumbled across was the fascinating news that a team of scientists are beginning to make it possible for amputees to gain sensory information from their prosthetics via stimulation of their peripheral nerves. The sensations induced include both a pain response and a non-pain response, and could potentially be applied to any prosthetic already on the market, since it’s just a layer of skin-like material (“e-dermis”) — and there’s no reason why it can’t be applied to lower-limb prostheses, too.

Prosthetic hand with e-dermis covering the fingertips. Credit: Larry Canner/JHU

All of this could help people with phantom limb sensations and help people adjust to using prosthetics by providing more feedback (“if you do x, it’s uncomfortable/painful and may cause damage to the device”). It hasn’t been tested widely yet, by the sound of it, but nonetheless there have been some consistent results and it seems pretty promising.

Science! It’s amazing.

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