The new study brings hope among people who have lost their Sense of Touch in the nerves of a limb following amputation or injury. The technology involves a tiny sensor that is implanted in the nerve of the injured limb, for example in the finger and is connected directly to a healthy nerve.Each time the limb touches an object, the sensor is activated and conducts an electric current to the functioning nerve, which recreates the feeling of touch. The researchers emphasize that this is a tested and safe technology that is suited to the human body and could be implanted anywhere inside of it once clinical trials are done.
The technology was developed under the leadership of a team of experts from Tel Aviv University: Dr Ben M. Maoz, Iftach Shlomy, Shay Divald, and Dr. Yael Leichtmann-Bardoogo from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Fleischman Faculty of Engineering, in collaboration with Keshet Tadmor from the Sagol School of Neuroscience and Dr Amir Arami from the Sackler School of Medicine and the Microsurgery Unit in the Department of Hand Surgery at Sheba Medical Center. The study was published in the journal ACS Nano.
The researchers say that this unique project began with a meeting between the two Tel Aviv University colleagues, biomedical engineer Dr Maoz and surgeon Dr Arami. Dr Maoz said that they discuss the challenges they face during the work. Dr Arami shared with me the difficulty he experiences in treating people who have lost tactile sensation in one organ or another as a result of injury.
It should be understood that this loss of sensation can result from a very wide range of injuries, from minor wounds like someone chopping a salad and accidentally cutting himself with the knife to very serious injuries. Even if the wound can be healed and the injured nerve can be sutured, in many cases the Sense of Touch remains damaged. We decided to tackle this challenge together and find a solution that will restore tactile sensation to those who have lost it.