Until the 20th century, prostheses were often heavy wooden gear with a gross shape and limited function, which made them unaesthetic and not functional. Today, however, we have prosthetics controlled with our minds, predicting movement, and fitting perfectly each person thanks to 3D printing technology.
Nevertheless, even the most advanced prostheses can be improved. They still do not give much information to the wearer about what they are touching. That’s why researchers at Johns Hopkins University have created a new electronic dermis (e-dermis or an electronic skin). When placed on a prosthesis, this artificial skin leaves an amputee feeling pain and other sensations in their missing limb.
To create an electronic skin that works like human skin, researchers began by looking at human skin. They noted that our skin contains a network of receptors that transmit to the brain a variety of sensations, allowing us to know if what we touch is sharp or smooth, hot or cold, hard or soft, etc.
They designed their device to convey two specific sensations : the curvature of an object and its sharpness. They built their electronic skin from a combination of fabric and rubber, adding layers of sensors to mimic the receptor in human skin. These receptors could detect the sensations of an object and then transmit them to the peripheral nerves of the residual limb of an amputee via wires.
To determine the type of information that the device must send to its wearer, the researchers used a technique called Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) to stimulate the peripheral nerves of the amputee’s residual limb and ask them what they felt in their ghost member.
The researchers detected brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG) to confirm that the process was stimulating the phantom limb. Electroencephalography (EEG) is an electrophysiological monitoring method to record electrical activity of the brain. The researchers basically taught their e-derm to electronically code different sensations just like the human skin. How would it be beneficial for people? The electronic dermis could give prostheses a more vivid feeling while protecting them from damage. Giving humans the opportunity to experience these exciting sensations again is an incredible accomplishment.
Finally, 3DSizeME and Msoft allows all orthotic, prosthetic and manufacturing centers, university researchers and people working in the medical sector to access a proven and accurate 3D scanning solution for the human body.They can all use our software to compare and analyze results. For example, in this case, researchers at Johns Hopkins University could have used Msoft to compare a scan of the amputated limb (before) and a scan of the limb with the prosthesis (after). Moreover, 3D scan from the amputated limb would have allowed the researchers to have the exact measurement of the prosthesis to make. Besides, you can now collect patient information and scan parts of the human body with Structure Sensor (+iPad) or the Bodyscan. While giving you a pleasant scanning experience, our software enables you to scan many body parts with many options and features and add notes and/or pictures. You can check the product page on our website to get more information on 3DsizeMe or other products.
Kristin Houser. Futurism. Electronic Skin Lets Amputees Feel Pain Through Their Prosthetics. 2018.