Researchers develop a prosthetic leg that lets its user 'feel'

Polycount

Posts: 2,514   +549
Staff member

Unfortunately, we're still a ways off from emulating the full range of senses that organic limbs offer. Even the best prosthetic arms and legs out there typically don't feature believable haptic feedback, which can prevent them from feeling like a true extension of one's body. However, progress is being made in this regard. As reported by IEEE Spectrum, researchers have developed a bionic leg that can "feel" -- sort of.

The leg is capable of sending "sensor input" to an individual's nervous system, allowing them to feel sensations like a knee bending, or foot-to-ground walking resistance. According to Spectrum, this technology has so far been successful at reducing instances of "phantom pain" from non-existent legs, as well as boosting a user's endurance and overall quality-of-life.

Apparently, these feedback functions work through a combination of algorithms, sensors, and a "small implant" injected into a user's thigh. It's a bit more intrusive than other prosthetic alternatives, but it sounds like the benefits may be worth the trade-off.

This was tested among two different above-knee amputees. The amputees were asked to walk around "various types" of terrain, with and without the sensory feedback capabilities of the prosthetic switched on. When they were on, Spectrum says users could feel the limb's presence and tended to walk faster; all while consuming less oxygen overall.

It'll be a while before this technology is ready for market, but it's exciting to see advances like this being made. In a couple decades (or less), provided the technology is sophisticated enough, perhaps some people will be actively trying to replace their limbs with artificial alternatives. Only time will tell.

Image credit: Orthapaedic Industries

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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,384   +5,812
Soooooo .... at what point will we develop fingers that can type or push the game buttons at hyper-sonic speed? And when we do, where will be the challenge of competing one to one? Call me old fashioned but I liked the Olympic's and all other forms of competition when it was player against player without ANY form of performance enhancements. THAT was the original intent of the Olympic's as is the basis of any competitive activity. Now days it's not as much about the athlete's as it is about their technological enhancements.

All of this stuff might be cool but if that's the objective let's eliminate the human factor and just let the robots duke it out .....
 
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Markoni35

Posts: 750   +263
Ugly and ineffective. Wouldn't it be about time to start using technology developed in 1920'es, improved in 1970'es and further improved in 2000'es that can regrow skin, blood vessels, muscles and bones? It's so simple because nature does 99% of the job. You just have to provide it with extracellular matrix.

The only thing that wasn't solved so far is joints, as they require separate growth. They need to figure that out, possibly by watching the way lizards regenerate their limbs. And that's it. No stupid ugly prosthetic limbs, which look nice in a catalogue... but that man won't look good on the beach, and that girl won't look sexy in her evening dress.

Just stop screwing around and give us the proper regenerative medicine and not this ugly outdated ultra-expensive crap. I wouldn't give this to my dog.
 

jpuroila

Posts: 222   +117
Soooooo .... at what point will we develop fingers that can type or push the game buttons at hyper-sonic speed? And when we do, where will be the challenge of competing one to one? Call me old fashioned but I liked the Olympic's and all other forms of competition when it was player against player without ANY form of performance enhancements. THAT was the original intent of the Olympic's as is the basis of any competitive activity. Now days it's not as much about the athlete's as it is about their technological enhancements.

All of this stuff might be cool but if that's the objective let's eliminate the human factor and just let the robots duke it out .....
It seems that IOC agrees.
https://www.engadget.com/2008/01/17/prosthetic-limbed-runner-disqualified-from-olympics