People with amputated arms can feel warmth in their missing hands

Someone with an amputated right arm showing where they are experiencing the feeling of temperature in their phantom hand

It exhibits the place somebody with a severed proper arm feels a sure heat of their ghostly hand.


Individuals with amputated arms could also be made to sense temperature or materials modifications of their phantom fingers; it is a discovery that might assist equip prostheses with the next sense of contact.

After an amputation, some individuals expertise the sensation that their lacking arms or legs are nonetheless connected, often known as phantom limbs. To be taught extra about these limbs, Suleyman Sukur On the Swiss Federal Institute of Expertise in Lausanne and colleagues studied 26 individuals who misplaced no less than a part of one in every of their arms in an accident and reported experiencing phantom fingers.

The researchers positioned a variable-temperature machine on the remaining limbs of those members. They then utilized three temperatures: 25°C (77°F), 32°C (89.6°F), and 37°C (98.6°F), and members reported whether or not they may really feel heat of their phantom hand, and if that’s the case. , if they might separate the temperatures from one another.

Seventeen stated they felt a change in temperature of their phantom fingers when the machine was used, which the researchers known as the phantom thermal sensation. Of those, 15 had been in a position to distinguish between the three temperatures. “Our speculation is that nerves proceed to develop within the pores and skin after amputation,” Shokur says. “By exactly concentrating on these nerves, we produce this ghostly sensation.”

It isn’t clear why solely 17 of the members reported feeling the temperatures. “We seen that many unresponsive individuals had fire-related accidents and due to this fact their pores and skin was burnt and due to this fact their pores and skin had misplaced a substantial amount of sensitivity,” he says.

In one other a part of the experiment, the researchers utilized a sensor to 3 supplies: glass, copper, and plastic. This sensor was connected to the remaining arm of 9 blindfolded members with phantom thermal sensing. It was initially set to the approximate temperature of the pores and skin, 32°C, after which cooled on the similar charge because the pores and skin on our fingers when it got here into contact with copper, glass or plastic.

Contributors recognized which supplies the sensor touched with a 66 % success charge, in comparison with a 67 % success charge when their untouched fingers touched the supplies.

The researchers hope to develop their sensors in order that they are often utilized to the fingertips of the prosthesis, permitting individuals to sense temperatures when their arms or fingers are amputated. Shokur says it will assist individuals with amputations keep away from burns and make the sense of contact extra pure. “One individual informed me they might like to put on this machine whereas holding their kid’s hand to allow them to really feel their heat,” she says.


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