Dennis Sorensen was able to 'feel' and describe objects while blindfolded thanks to the revolutionary prosthetic which could change the lives of millions of amputees.
Using a bionic hand to grip an object, blindfolded Dennis Sorensen can tell from how it feels it is a plastic cup.
This astonishing feat was made possible as he is the first person to have a prosthetic hand fitted which has a sense of touch.
Dennis, 36, who lost his left hand in a firework accident nine years ago, said it was “quite amazing” to suddenly be able to feel things again.
The incredible technology uses sensors in the prosthetic device to pick up information about touch. This data is then converted into impulses which his nerves can interpret.
The signals are sent through wires into four electrodes that were surgically implanted into what remains of Dennis’s arm nerves.
He said: “You can feel round things and hard things and soft things.
“The feedback was totally new to me, and suddenly when I was doing the movements I could feel actually what I was doing, instead of looking at what I was doing.”
The dad added: “It was quite amazing because suddenly I could feel something I had not been feeling for nine years. My kids thought it was cool.”
Excited doctors said the pioneering technology could eventually work in all proesthetic limbs and change the lives of millions of amputees.
Dennis is Danish but lives in Rome which is where he had the ground-breaking surgery last year.
Doctors from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology put the sensors in the bionic hand before it was attached to Dennis for four weeks.
Dr Stanisa Raspopovic, of the institute, in Lausanne, Switzerland, said: “We were worried about reduced sensitivity in Dennis’s nerves since they had not been used in over nine years.”
But his fears were unfounded. Wearing a blindfold and earplugs, Dennis was able to detect the shape, size and feel of objects he picked up.
Scientists were delighted as Dennis described in detail what he was holding.
He was the first patient in the world to test the bionic hand as part of a study published last night in the Science Translational
Experts at the University of Freiburg, Germany, designed the electrodes that made it possible to relay electrical signals directly into his nervous system
Due to safety rules during clinical trials, Dennis has had the electrodes and new hand removed. But he hopes he will soon be able to enjoy the sense of touch in his left hand all the time.
He said: “I’d love to have the new prosthetic as it is so amazing to feel something I’ve not been able to feel for so many years.”
Scientists are now working to improve the sensitivity of the bionic device and to complete further tests before recommending its use worldwide.