This week a team of researchers from Switzerland announced it has designed a lower leg prosthesis that incorporates advanced neural stimulation, allowing patients to recreate the sensation of touch after an amputation. The prosthesis allows for the patient to feel movement and pressure on their knee and foot.
Current prostheses that lack sensation have been an issue for amputees. Since there is low to no sensory feedback, patients contend with serious issues like lower mobility and a higher risk of falling. With this new development, patients can walk more confidently and achieve more complex tasks knowing that they can feel where they are stepping.
Researchers tested their sensory device on a commercially available prosthesis by adding neural sensors in the knee area and the insole. Once the prosthesis is under pressure from a step, the device mimics sensory feedback by stimulating nerves in the remaining limb.
During the tests, the increased sensation helped patients walk faster, do more complex movements and even walk through rugged terrain. Patients who tested the device also showed greater satisfaction knowing that they don’t have to look down with every step, while also acknowledging the prosthesis does not feel like an external object attached to their body.