In A Novel Study, Researchers Equipped A Prosthetic Limb With Fingertip Sensors That Allowed Amputees To Feel Temperature Variations, A Breakthrough That May Lead To A Stronger Sense Of Human Connection

Then, the researchers conducted a test where Fidati, who was blindfolded, had to discern whether he was touching another prosthetic hand or study co-author Francesco Iberite’s hand. The warmth from the human hand made it easier for Fidati to make this distinction, though he was not as successful as he might have been with his unaffected arm.

The study’s authors believe that incorporating additional inputs like textures and softness could further refine this ability. So, this test underscores that while temperature perception is crucial, it is merely one component of the complex sensory experience of human touch – suggesting a path toward developing prosthetics that more closely mimic the functionality of a human hand.

Millions of individuals around the globe have undergone limb amputation, prompting scientists and biomedical engineers to tirelessly enhance prosthetics for patients.

Many initiatives aimed at restoring sensation to amputees require internal implants, which, while beneficial, present certain challenges. For instance, surgical interventions are intrusive and carry high costs, both for the procedure itself and for the sophisticated devices they facilitate.

However, the MiniTouch sensor stands apart as it can be effortlessly added to an existing prosthetic within a few hours and utilizes consumer-grade technologies that are easily accessible.

“The reason why cell phones are so cheap is because their technology can be replicated in scale. This is exactly the same for our sensor, which is the only custom part in the whole process,” Iberite said.

And for Francesca Rossi from Bologna, Italy, another participant in the 2023 study who experienced the sensation of touch with temperature in her absent hand, the experience proved to feel transformational.

“Feeling the temperature variation is a different thing, something important, something beautiful. It does not feel phantom anymore because your limb is back,” she said.

To read the study’s complete findings, visit the link here.

3 of 3