Mar 03, 2013

Permanently implanted neuromuscolar electrodes allow natural control of a robotic prosthesis

Source: Chalmers University of Technology

 
Dr Rickard Brånemark tests the functionality of the world's first muscle and nerve control...
 
For the first time, a surgical team led by Dr Rickard Brånemark, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, has carried out the first operation of its kind, where neuromuscular electrodes that enable a prosthetic arm and hand to be controlled by thought have been permanently implanted into the nerves and muscles of an amputee.

“The new technology is a major breakthrough that has many advantages over current technology, which provides very limited functionality to patients with missing limbs,” Brånemark says.

Presently, robotic prostheses rely on electrodes over the skin to pick up the muscles electrical activity to drive few actions by the prosthesis. The problem with this approach is that normally only two functions are regained out of the tens of different movements an able-body is capable of. By using implanted electrodes, more signals can be retrieved, and therefore control of more movements is possible. Furthermore, it is also possible to provide the patient with natural perception, or “feeling”, through neural stimulation.

“We believe that implanted electrodes, together with a long-term stable human-machine interface provided by the osseointegrated implant, is a breakthrough that will pave the way for a new era in limb replacement,” says Rickard Brånemark.

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