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Scientists “taught” prostheses, feel the pain

Ученые "научили" протезы чувствовать боль The Johns Hopkins University have created a new type of artificial skin for prostheses

A development called E-dermis returns the patient to not only feel, but also the sensation of pain.

After amputate hands or feet people often experience the feeling of “phantom limbs” – the sensation that the missing limb is still there. This sensory illusion is closer to reality thanks to a team of engineers from Johns Hopkins University, which created e-skin E-dermis. When it is applied on top of dentures, it returns a real sense of touch through the fingertips.

“Many years later, I felt my hand like an empty shell again filled with life,” says the anonymous man-amputee who served as the chief volunteer tester team.

E-the dermis is made of fabric and rubber and fitted with sensors to simulate nerve endings. This skin recreates the sense of touch and pain, sensing stimuli and transmitting impulses in the peripheral nerves.

“We have created a sensor that passes through the fingers of the prosthetic hand and acts as your own skin. This is interesting and new, because now we can have a prosthetic hand that is already on the market, and it can be changed using an electronic skin that has a lot to tell the owner,” says Luke Osborne, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University in biomedical engineering.

The shell allows the bearer of the prosthesis to perceive a wide range of tactile sensations from light touch to strong depression. A novelty compared to other models of artificial leather are electronic pain receptors. They are activated when the pressure on the sensing surface reaches dangerous values.

“Pain is unpleasant, but it is also important that protective feeling, which is missing from the prostheses currently available to amputees. Advances in prosthesis design and control mechanisms can help to restore lost function, but often people do not have enough tactile feedback”, – said Luke Osborne.

At the same time emphasizes that development is not exactly copies human skin. In particular, E-dermis is not sensitive to temperature.

After several months of testing, the researchers said they plan further development of the technology and a better understanding of how to provide meaningful sensory information to patients with amputation in the hope to make the system ready for widespread use.

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