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New technology brings touching within reach of amputees

Just about everyone who has seen the Star Wars movies remembers the epic scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader cuts off the hand of Luke Skywalker. At the time, the following scene in which a bionic arm is attached to young Skywalker’s arm seemed like science fiction. After all, the technology seemed light years (no pun intended) beyond its time, including the possibility of an amputee having not only a replaced limb but the ability to touch as well. But science fiction has finally found its way into reality with promising results for amputees around the world.

Researchers with the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland announced recently that they planned to outfit a male patient with an artificial hand connected directly to the man’s nervous system. Not only will he be able to move the hand simply by using his thoughts, but scientists also believe that he will be able to feel via touch signals that are imbedded in the prosthetic’s skin as well.

While news like this is probably exciting for many of our readers here in Georgia who are currently living with a physical condition that can benefit from new technologies such as this, it’s important to remember that science is still a long ways off from making these medical devices affordable.

As some of our readers may already know, prosthetic devices such as the one mentioned above can be incredibly expensive. While disability benefits might be able to offset the cost and help a person regain their independence again, this might not be possible if these benefits are denied. It’s in circumstances such as this that a person might want to seek legal counsel, especially if it means getting access to much needed benefits in the not too distant future.

Source: The National Post, “Bionic body no longer science fiction as researchers develop revolutionary new prosthetics, ways to restore sight,” Matt Hartley, Jan. 1, 2014

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