Thankfully, a professor at the University of Linz in Austria has developed a prosthetic leg that can be re-wired to the patient’s remaining foot-nerves so that the person wearing the artificial limb can still experience sensory feedback!
To accomplish this feat, surgeons had to rewire the remaining foot nerve endings in the patient’s stump to connect them to healthy tissue in the thigh, placing them close to the skin surface.
Six sensors were then fitted to the sole of the artificial foot and linked to so-called stimulators inside the shaft of the leg, where the stump rests. The experience is, apparently, remarkable.
Wolfgang Rapper, one of the first people to be fitted with this new type of prosthesis, says, ““With the leg I can feel now if it is a graveled road or if it is paved. Or in winter, and that’s important, if the road is icy or slippery. I can react to it so I don’t slip or fall down.” More than that, because it can replace the sensations of a real leg, it could limit the experience of phantom-leg-pain that so many amputees experience.
Currently, the amazing leg can cost as much as 30,000 Euros and is not widely available, but hopefully developers can refine the manufacturing process to make the technology more widely accessible. I’ll be watching this development closely to see what it leads to next!