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Chronic Use of a Sensitized Bionic Hand Does Not Remap the Sense of Touch

By Kirstin Ahmed

After long-term use of a neuromusculoskeletal prosthesis where the location of a force sensor on a prosthetic hand and the location that electrical nerve stimulation corresponding to grasping force was felt did not originally match, we show that the perceived location of the touch does not change to match the sensor location. Our results with three neuromusculoskeletal prosthesis users conform to previous studies that suggest sensory maps in the brain are stable in adulthood and cannot be modified. Although the sensation and prosthesis sensor locations did not match, participants still indicated greater confidence in their prosthesis control and greater embodiment of the bionic limb. Although congruent sensory location is not required for the benefits of sensory feedback to arise, it may still be preferable for prosthesis users and thus other methods of changing sensory locations remains a future area of development.