Scientist Creates Artificial Skin That Detects Pain

Pain is the body’s way of showing us that something is wrong. It gets our attention, makes us move fast to stop the problem and helps us steer clear of danger or serious injury. It's a useful alarm that keeps us safe. What if we could apply that to other uses? Scientists have mimicked that trigger, creating artificial skin that actually detects pain.

Pain is Keyed to Survival

No one wants to feel physical pain, but humans need to experience it to get through life safely. It signals us to shelter the body from harm. But when pain sensors are destroyed or eliminated from the body, we can become vulnerable to danger. The loss of pain signals can leave us open to all sorts of risks from heat or cold, as well as skin abrasions and cuts. 

The artificial skin created by RMIT University (formerly known as Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Melbourne Technical College) may help restore pain signals and that much-needed layer of protection. 

How Artificial Skin Works

What exactly is this artificial skin development? A small, clear piece is placed on the skin near the nerve damage or loss.  The artificial skin is lightweight and appears like a small piece of clear plastic. The visible transmitters are the backbone of the piece, allowing it to absorb feedback from the skin and transmit the information nearly instantaneously. 

This package of next-generation biomedical technology offers hope for amputees through prosthetics and robotics by providing sensation where there had been none. 

How it Operates

When a person loses a limb, the loss affects somatosensory organs or those that provide pressure or heat sensations. The artificial skin mimics these. It provides near-instant feedback via response and reaction to painful sensations as they occur.  

The same way nerve signals travel to the brain, it reacts when cold, heat or pressure reaches a certain threshold. The devide easily attaches to the skin and can be used in conjunction with other products and therapies.  

Who It Benefits

This promising device promises to be a great source of assistance for amputees especially. By attaching the artificial skin piece to a nearby area, a type of sensation, however artificial, can be restored. This mechanism helps certain neurotransmitters in the brain regain a sense of control. 

It may also help those with debilitating nerve damage from an accident or disease that has destroyed certain parts of the body. 

Pain is is, well, painful, but it provides a valuable warning system that we may not appreciate until we lose it. In the larger sense, pain is vital to human life. And being able to restore these warning signals might be the first step to being able to feel all kinds of things where sensation has either been lost or never was present. The possibilities are incredible. 

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7/23/2021 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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