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A prosthetic wrapped in electronic skin that can feel both pain and touch could help amputees avoid injury.
The skin, known as e-dermis, is a thin layer of rubber and fabric fits over the fingertips of a prosthetic hand and generates pulses of electricity.
Shocks - Nerves - Stump - Feeling - Touch
These small shocks fire into nerves in the stump to simulate a real feeling of touch when the electronic skin makes contact with objects.
The team has already tested e-dermis on an anonymous amputee, who described the experience 'as if a hollow shell got filled with life again'.
Pain - Limb - Sensation - Bodies - Danger
Feeling pain is vital to a fully-functioning limb as the sensation helps us to protect our bodies by removing them from danger, according to the researchers.
'Pain is, of course, unpleasant, but it's also an essential, protective sense of touch that is lacking in the prostheses that are currently available to amputees,' project researcher and John Hopkins University graduate student Luke Osborn said.
'Advances - Prosthesis - Designs - Control - Mechanisms
'Advances in prosthesis designs and control mechanisms can aid an amputee's ability to regain lost function, but they often lack meaningful, tactile feedback or perception.'
The team at John Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, used the complex network of touch receptors in human skin as inspiration for their device.
Sensors - Connect - Nerves - Wearer - Stump
Sensors in e-dermis connect to nerves in the wearer's stump through electrodes placed on the skin, firing signals in a similar way to real nerves.
Depending on the pattern of pulses sent by the device, it...
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