Referral of Sensation to an Advanced Humanoid Robotic Hand Prosthesis

Scand J Plast Reconstr Surg Hand Surg. 2009;43(5):260-6. doi: 10.3109/02844310903113107.


Hand prostheses that are currently available on the market are used by amputees to only a limited extent, partly because of lack of sensory feedback from the artificial hand. We report a pilot study that showed how amputees can experience a robot-like advanced hand prosthesis as part of their own body. We induced a perceptual illusion by which touch applied to the stump of the arm was experienced from the artificial hand. This illusion was elicited by applying synchronous tactile stimulation to the hidden amputation stump and the robotic hand prosthesis in full view. In five people who had had upper limb amputations this stimulation caused referral touch sensation from the stump to the artificial hand, and the prosthesis was experienced more like a real hand. We also showed that this illusion can work when the amputee controls the movements of the artificial hand by recordings of the arm muscle activity with electromyograms. These observations indicate that the previously described "rubber hand illusion" is also valid for an advanced hand prosthesis, even when it has a robotic-like appearance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amputation Stumps
  • Amputees
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Electromyography
  • Feedback, Sensory*
  • Female
  • Hand*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Robotics*
  • Touch