Arkansan is Second to Receive Prosthetic Hand That Restores Sense of Touch

Arkansan is Second to Receive Prosthetic Hand That Restores Sense of Touch
The prosthetic hand system developed by the Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research at the University of Arkansas (University of Arkansas)

An Arkansas resident is the second person in the world to receive an innovative prosthetic hand that restores meaningful sense of touch and grip, the University of Arkansas announced.

The neural-enhanced prosthetic hand was developed by researchers at the university's Institute for Integrative and Innovative Research, or I3R, and transplanted through surgery at UAMS.

The lengthy operation was led by neurosurgeon Dr. Erika Petersen, with co-leading roles for orthopedic hand and nerve specialists Dr. John Bracey and Dr. Mark Tait.

In a news release, Petersen said the technology opens the door to a new era of augmenting human functionality. "It’s a great achievement for UAMS, the University of Arkansas, and our state," she said. "It’s also an exciting promise of what’s to come for people with amputations around the globe.”'

The prosthetic was invented and developed with funding from the National Institutes of Health by an engineering team led by Ranu Jung and James Abbas. It has received FDA investigational device exemption status. The device was also used in the first surgery of its kind, which was performed in Florida.

As part of the Arkansas collaboration, the step-by-step implant procedure developed by the I3R team was displayed on a large screen during the surgery and the team was on hand to provide clarification, as needed.

The clinical trial participant, whose identity remains confidential in accordance with clinical trial guidelines, has been learning to use the neural-enabled prosthesis at the University of Arkansas with the I3R team since recovering from the surgery in January, according to the release.

The procedure involved placing 15 microelectrodes, along with other components that enable communication between the brain and the prosthesis, through the arm’s median and ulnar nerves.

Preparation for the surgery included training and practice on a human cadaver at UAMS.

“The idea of enabling someone to feel with their prosthesis is pretty meaningful, and we’re excited to be part of this groundbreaking project with Drs. Jung and Abbas and the I3R team,” Tait said.