Don't Take Your Sense Of Touch For Granted
Manual dexterity - the ability to open a bottle, to sign a birthday card, or key in a telephone number is something we take for granted. When your sense of touch is impaired due to a stroke, diabetes or otherwise, zipping up your trousers, closing a button or tying your shoelaces can feel like impossible tasks.
The good news is: recent research has found that wearable gloves that stimulate the nerves which communicate with the brain, can improve the tactile discrimination (quality of the sense of touch) of patients. These gloves have electrical contacts in the fingertips, that stimulate your nerves with electrical pulses.
It’s still early days, but it seems that “electrical stimulation of the skin of the fingers activates the somatosensory cortex in an unspecific manner.”
We have a suite of devices for maintaining our sight and hearing as we age, but nothing exists for touch, a sense that suffers from the same deterioration, subtly and often unnoticed. This glove is the first of it’s kind, helping to ensure independence in old age.
I met a girl once who surgically inserted magnets into her fingertips like this guy. She claimed it was to give her a sixth sense, to sense the pull of a metal doorknob, or the electromagnet waves given off by a microwave.
I wonder if the next phase of this wearable glove will be the implantation of electronic circuits into our palms, so they can pulse and keep our sense of touch alive well into old age.
In the meantime, if you have issues with manual dexterity, here are some exercises you can do to improve yours, no glove necessary.