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Bionic Hand Lets Amputee Feel in Real-Time

by / February 11, 2014

Nine years ago, Dennis Aabo Sørensen from Denmark lost his left hand in an accident. But now, he is the first amputee in the world to feel – in real-time – with a sensory-enhanced prosthetic hand that was surgically wired to nerves in his upper arm. 

A prototype of this bionic technology -- developed by Silvestro Micera and his team at EPFL Center for Neuroprosthetics and SSSA in Italy -- was tested in February 2013 during a clinical trial in Rome. 

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“The sensory feedback was incredible,” Sørensen said. “I could feel things that I hadn’t been able to feel in over nine years.”

In a lab setting wearing a blindfold and earplugs, Sørensen could detect how strongly he was grasping, and the shape and consistency of different objects he picked up with the prosthetic. 

Though a sensory-enhanced prosthetic is years away from being commercially available and even further away is the bionic hand of science fiction movies, this clinical study is the first step toward a bionic hand.