E-dermis - Electronic skin recreates touch and pain in prosthetic hands

Service Engineering

E-dermis is a form of electronic skin made of rubber and fabric covered with sensors to imitate nerve endings. It has been created by engineers at Johns Hopkins University who claim that it can bring feelings to the fingertips of prosthetic hands by sensing stimuli and relaying the impulses back to the peripheral nerves in the arm, making so-called phantom limbs come to life. It was tested for 12 months on a volunteer amputee from the Neuroengineering Laboratory at the University who said, “After many years, I felt my hand, as if a hollow shell got filled with life again.”

Luke Osborn, a graduate student in biomedical engineering said: “This is interesting and new, because now we can have a prosthetic hand that is already on the market and fit it with an e-dermis that can tell the wearer whether he or she is picking up something that is round or whether it has sharp points. 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. 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.”

“E-dermis is a form of electronic skin made of rubber and fabric covered with sensors to imitate nerve endings.“

Nitish Thakor, director of the Biomedical Instrumentation and Neuroengineering Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University said: “For the first time, a prosthesis can provide a range of perceptions, from fine touch to noxious to an amputee, making it more like a human hand.”

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