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October 23, 2021
Science and Medical

Bionic Hands Let Amputees Feel and Grip

Prosthetic hands give users sensory feedback so they can feel and grip objects accurately

If you’re sitting near a coffee mug, pick it up, and note how easy it is to do without really looking. You feel the curvature of the handle, the width of the cup, the slipperiness of the ceramic. Your hand glides into place and you squeeze, getting a sense of the weight, and bring the cup to your mouth. 

Now, imagine trying to do that with a robotic hand that gives you no sensory feedback. You get no information about the tiny adjustments that your fingers must make in order to grasp it properly. It feels more like operating a joystick than a hand. 

Bioengineers are working to improve that, and this week they made some progress. In a pair of papers published Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics, two research groups, in separate projects, described bionic hands that provide sensory feedback to amputees. 

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