Prosthetic hands have been around for a while, but there have been a number of recent advancements in the field that have made them cheaper and more refined. The latest advancement revealed this week tackles a long sought after result of prosthetics – restoring one’s sense of touch.
The Independent reports that an unnamed man in Rome will be having his hand replaced with a prosthetic later this year after losing it in accident. The hand is unique in that it connects with two main nerves in the arm to bring a sense of touch through built-in skin sensors in the prosthetic hand.
Obviously, this is a huge advancement in prosthetics. The researchers working on the hand say it is “real hope for amputees.” The hand will “be the first prosthetic that will provide real-time sensory feedback for grasping.”
The arm does have a few risks associated with it though. For one, the psychological toll of the arm has not yet been fully tested. The researchers aren’t entirely sure how a patient would be affected by having the arm attached at all times. Those equipped with the prosthetic hand may have to take it off for regular breaks every so often. The other is dealing with how doctors will conceal the wiring in the hand that connects to the nerves in the arm. For now, the wiring will be inserted through the skin, but later versions may lay the wiring underneath it.
The test subject will be outfitted with the hand for a month. If the test goes smoothly, researchers hope to have a fully working model ready within two years. From there, it could be put through more rigorous testing in the hopes of a mass market prosthetic for more people.
For now, why don’t you 3D print your own robohand?