For the First Time, Artificial Feet Can Feel the Ground

For the First Time, Artificial Feet Can Feel the Ground

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Scientists in Austria are taking their research on prosthetic limbs one step further by restoring the sense of touch to those who wear them.

Professor Hubert Egger from the University of Linz recently unveiled research which enables patients to actually feel the bottom of their artificial feet.

The process begins with surgically re-wiring the nerves at the end of the residual limb so they are better able to receive signals. Then, sensors that measure pressure are placed on the bottom of the prosthetic.photo by Sun Star

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The sensors essentially relay pressure points through a stimulator in the shaft of the prosthetic, which touches the end of the stump. The nerves send signals to the brain, and, miraculously, the prosthetic toes have touch.

Wolfang Ranger, who lost his right leg in 2007, has been testing out the technology at the University of Linz laboratory and at home.brain_scans_CU_Tufts

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“It feels like I have a foot again. It’s like a second lease of life,” he told BBC News. “I no longer slip on ice and I can tell whether I walk on gravel, concrete, grass or sand. I can even feel small stones.”

Scientists say this is the first time that a leg amputee had been fitted with a sensory-enhanced prosthesis.

(WATCH a video or READ more from the BBC)

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