Sensory feedback from a prosthetic hand based on air-mediated pressure from the hand to the forearm skin
Christian Antfolk, Anders Björkman, Sven-Olof Frank, Fredrik Sebelius, Göran Lundborg, Birgitta Rosen
Department of Hand Surgery, Skåne University Hospital, SE-205 02 Malmö, Sweden
Objective: Lack of sensory feedback is a drawback in today’s hand prostheses. We present here a non-invasive simple sensory feedback system, which provides the user of a prosthetic hand with sensory feedback on the arm stump. It is mediated by air in a closed loop system connecting silicone pads on the prosthetic hand with pads on the amputation stump. The silicone pads in a “tactile display” on the amputation stump expand when their corresponding sensor-bulb in the prosthesis is touched, evoking an experience of “real touch”.
Methods: Twelve trans-radial amputees and 20 healthy non-amputees participated in the study. We investigated the capacity of the system to mediate detection of touch, discrimination between different levels of pressure and, on the amputees also, the ability to locate touch.
Results: The results showed a median touch threshold of 80 and 60 g in amputees and non-amputees, respectively, and 90% and 80% correct answers, respectively, in discrimination between 2 levels of pressure. The amputees located touch (3 sites) correctly in 96% of trials.
Conclusion: This simple sensory feedback system has the potential to restore sensory feedback in hand amputees and thus it could be a useful tool to enhance prosthesis use.