Scientists in Australia have come up with a revolutionary invention that gives amputees the same sensations as if they had legs.
The artificial leg has sensors fitted to the sole which enables it to stimulate nerves at the base of the amputee’s stump.
Wolfang Rangger, the very first recipient of the sensory-enhanced artificial leg shared his experience saying, “It feels like I have a foot again. I no longer slip on ice and I can tell whether I walk on gravel, concrete, sand, or grass. I can even feel small stones.”
The nerve endings on Rangger’s stump were first rewired by surgeons placing them closer to the skin surface which enabled scientists to place six censors on the foot of the artificial leg thereby being able to measure the pressure of heel, toe and foot movement. This measurement is sent as a signal to the sensors which are transmitted to a micro-controller which in turn transmits to the stimulators inside the leg’s shaft.
Signals to the brain are sent when the stimulators vibrate and activate the nerve endings under the skin of the stump.
According to Professor Hubbert Egger of the University of Linz, the device gives the brain real data which doesn’t stress the brain further by having it search for information from a missing limb. He said; “The sensors tell the brain there is a foot and the wearer has the impression that it rolls off the ground when he walks.”
According to reports, the artificial leg was unveiled at a press conference in Vienna recently but the details of the invention haven’t yet been published in a medical journal. University of Nottingham’s Dr. Alastair Ritchie said the invention even though was exciting is not groundbreaking.