Amputees sense change in the future
Technology may help regain lost sensations
August 28, 1996
Web posted at: 6:30 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Lori Waffenschmidt
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Amputees may soon be able to detect
sensations like hot or cold temperatures in their artificial
limbs, thanks to emerging technologies.
Every week some 3,000 Americans become amputees, losing a
hand or foot, an arm or leg to traumatic accidents or
crippling diseases. NovaCare Sabolich, one of the leading
companies in prosthetics research and development, is working
to help amputees regain sensations they once had.
"In prosthetics, we've done a good job of making things move
and people run as you see," said John Sabolich. "But we've
done a poor job of providing sensation back."
He added, "Until you've lost your sensation to feel, you take
it for granted.
The new limbs have micro-circuits, tiny hot and cold sensors,
that detect the sensation and pass it on to the amputee,
Sabolich said. (357K AIFF or WAV sound)
Researchers say the new technology could help amputees safely
perform tasks like heating a baby's bottle or running a
child's bath. The research could also help people who've lost
their sense of touch, like paraplegics and quadriplegics.
For Kenneth Kuykendall, who lost his right arm in a farming
accident, it could make all the difference. He experimented
with the new artificial limb. The arm was dipped into ice and
he felt its freezing sting; it was placed into hot coffee and
he felt its warmth.
"That's receptive enough and quick enough to where you know
if you grabbed something hot," he said. "It amazed me how
quick it was."
Though the technology is still in its infancy, it's come a
long way from the days of hooks for hands and wooden arms and
legs. The technology is not currently available to the
public, but it's getting there.
"I think we're just inches away from becoming bionic people
with things like this," said Georgie Maxfield with the
Amputee Coalition of America.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
Some newsgroups may not be supported by your service provider.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.