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The realm that fuses healthcare and technology continues to amaze, as a paralyzed man has become the first person to “feel” sensations through a prosthetic hand. This news was released just a matter of days after we all learned of a 54 year old cancer patient who successfully received a 3D printed titanium sternum and ribs.

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This remarkable story involves a 28 year old – who has chosen to remain anonymous – who sustained an injury that left him paralyzed over 10 years ago. The prosthetic arm involved in this incredible outcome is connected to the subject’s brain and was developed by the military research agency, Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), who released their findings at a forum on September 10th.

The discovery was made during an experiment in which the subject was blindfolded and asked to report which of his prosthetic fingers was being touched. With almost 100% accuracy, the 28 year old was able to identify which prosthetic finger was being probed, making him the first ever person to feel sensations through a prosthetic hand.

To take things a step further, researchers decided to surprise the subject with a test that he once again passed with flying colours.

At one point, instead of pressing one finger, the team decided to press two without telling him. He responded in jest asking whether somebody was trying to play a trick on him. That is when we knew that the feelings he was perceiving through the robotic hand were near natural. – Justin Sanchez, DARPA Program Manager

In addition to being incredible for the gentleman involved, these findings undoubtedly signify great promise for the future of the fusion between technology and healthcare.

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What are your thoughts on this story? Do you trust technology within healthcare? Or do you find it either unnatural or untrustworthy? Let us know in the comment section below.


Featured Image Credit: John Hopkins University

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