Medical Breakthrough: Technology hopes to bring sense of touch to prosthetics

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A study involving medical breakthrough technology is hoping to bring the sense of touch back for amputees with prosthetics.

Amanda Kitts was in a crash 12 years ago that changed her life forever.

“His tire came off, and the axle came in and ripped my arm off,” Kitts said.

Since the crash, Kitts said she’s been learning to live her life without an arm, and uses a prosthetic to open doors and pick up food.

“When you’ve got a prosthetic, you have to look at it,” Kitts said, which is frustrating she said, adding that it requires a lot of concentration, “Something you’re not going to have to do that anymore.”

Dr. Paul Marasco, of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute, brought Kitts in as a volunteer for the new technology being studied.

“What this approach does is it provides you with the basic sense that your hand is moving and where it’s moving to so you don’t have to watch it constantly,” Marasco said.

The breakthrough research enhances amputees’ ability to control their robotic limbs, and can help people like Kitts feel what they’re touching.

“We’re looking at the possibility of using these in some way in relationship to spinal cord injury,” Marasco said.

Having experienced the new sensation of touch herself, Kitts said she’s amazing with the technology’s potential.

“I never thought I was going to be able to feel my arm again, and then I was like, hmm, this was all worth it,” Kitts said.

Kitts said she hopes more people will get the chance to try it out going forward.

The technology is still in the testing phase with volunteers, so a cost to the patients has not yet been determined.

For volunteer opportunities, visit the Cleveland Clinic’s website.

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