Though prosthetic cosmesis technology has advanced such that a false limb can be visually almost indistinguishable from a real one, the touch of even the most high-tech prosthesis lacks the softness and warmth of living flesh. Now, a Singapore researcher is working to change that.
J.J. Cabibihan, assistant professor at the Social Robotics Laboratory in the National University of Singapore (NUS), recently reported on his work at the Institute for Infocomm Research’s seminar on robotics for healthcare at Buona Vista, Singapore. He said in his presentation that having more touch-friendly skin can “improve the emotional healing process and shield an amputee from social stigma.” In his current research, Cabibihan is working to modify the internal geometry of an artificial fingertip’s skin and evaluate whether he can significantly improve the skin’s skin compliance while not unfavorably effecting its durability.
In a paper published in March in IFMBE Proceedings, Cabibihan noted that in a study of upper-limb amputeesin Singapore, “it was concluded that aesthetic prostheses are crucial for patients to cope with the traumatic experience.” He wrote that he is working to “find an optimal design of a prosthetic hand’s skin that would be comparable to the softness of the human hand. The project aims to develop simulation and experimental methodologies for selecting skin materials, designing their internal geometries, and comparing their behavior to the biomechanical skin behavior of the human hand for activities concerning social touch (e.g. handshakes, high fives, caress, etc.).”