Scientists in Austria have created an artificial leg which allows the amputee to feel lifelike sensations from their foot.
The recipient, Wolfang Rangger, who lost his right leg in 2007, said: “It feels like I have a foot again. It’s like a second lease of life.”
Prof Hubert Egger of the University of Linz, said sensors fitted to the sole of the artificial foot, stimulated nerves at the base of the stump.
He added it was the first time that a leg amputee had been fitted with a sensory-enhanced prosthesis.
Surgeons first rewired nerve endings in the patient’s stump to place them close to the skin surface.
Six sensors were fitted to the base of the foot, to measure the pressure of heel, toe and foot movement.
Sensors were fitted to the sole of the prosthetic
These signals were relayed to a micro-controller which relayed them to stimulators inside the shaft where it touched the base of the stump.
These vibrated, stimulating the nerve endings under the skin, which relayed the signals to the brain.
Prof Egger said: “The sensors tell the brain there is a foot and the wearer has the impression that it rolls off the ground when he walks.”
Wolfgang Ranger, a former teacher, who lost his leg after a blood clot caused by a stroke, has been testing the device for six months, both in the lab and at home.