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Prosthetics Roundup

December 21, 2007

Researchers are trying to make artificial limbs more like real ones.


Sensational artificial limbs. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

After an amputation, the nerves that allow the fingertips to feel sensation are continue to work. But disconnected from the skin, they aren’t useful. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doctors report successfully attaching the fingertip nerves to the skin of the chest in two patients. The nerves worked perfectly. The next step is to attach these nerves to a prosthetic arm, which should give the patients the sensation of actual fingers through the mechanical arm.

In related news, scientists at the University of Houston are developing new kinds of piezoelectric materials. These are materials that move when they receive an electrical current. The goal is to create materials for articifial limbs that are as strong and flexible as muscles. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.