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Concept: Prosthesis


Restoration of touch after hand amputation is a desirable feature of ideal prostheses. Here, we show that texture discrimination can be artificially provided in human subjects by implementing a neuromorphic real-time mechano-neuro-transduction (MNT), which emulates to some extent the firing dynamics of SA1 cutaneous afferents. The MNT process was used to modulate the temporal pattern of electrical spikes delivered to the human median nerve via percutaneous microstimulation in four intact subjects and via implanted intrafascicular stimulation in one transradial amputee. Both approaches allowed the subjects to reliably discriminate spatial coarseness of surfaces as confirmed also by a hybrid neural model of the median nerve. Moreover, MNT-evoked EEG activity showed physiologically plausible responses that were superimposable in time and topography to the ones elicited by a natural mechanical tactile stimulation. These findings can open up novel opportunities for sensory restoration in the next generation of neuro-prosthetic hands.

Concepts: Sensory system, Somatosensory system, Amputation, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Prosthesis, Proprioception, Hand, Thumb


Our ability to manipulate objects dexterously relies fundamentally on sensory signals originating from the hand. To restore motor function with upper-limb neuroprostheses requires that somatosensory feedback be provided to the tetraplegic patient or amputee. Given the complexity of state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs and, thus, the huge state space they can traverse, it is desirable to minimize the need for the patient to learn associations between events impinging on the limb and arbitrary sensations. Accordingly, we have developed approaches to intuitively convey sensory information that is critical for object manipulation-information about contact location, pressure, and timing-through intracortical microstimulation of primary somatosensory cortex. In experiments with nonhuman primates, we show that we can elicit percepts that are projected to a localized patch of skin and that track the pressure exerted on the skin. In a real-time application, we demonstrate that animals can perform a tactile discrimination task equally well whether mechanical stimuli are delivered to their native fingers or to a prosthetic one. Finally, we propose that the timing of contact events can be signaled through phasic intracortical microstimulation at the onset and offset of object contact that mimics the ubiquitous on and off responses observed in primary somatosensory cortex to complement slowly varying pressure-related feedback. We anticipate that the proposed biomimetic feedback will considerably increase the dexterity and embodiment of upper-limb neuroprostheses and will constitute an important step in restoring touch to individuals who have lost it.

Concepts: Brain, Sensory system, Skin, Sense, Somatosensory system, Prosthesis, Proprioception, Somatic sensory system


BACKGROUND: Paralysis or amputation of an arm results in the loss of the ability to orient the hand and grasp, manipulate, and carry objects, functions that are essential for activities of daily living. Brain-machine interfaces could provide a solution to restoring many of these lost functions. We therefore tested whether an individual with tetraplegia could rapidly achieve neurological control of a high-performance prosthetic limb using this type of an interface. METHODS: We implanted two 96-channel intracortical microelectrodes in the motor cortex of a 52-year-old individual with tetraplegia. Brain-machine-interface training was done for 13 weeks with the goal of controlling an anthropomorphic prosthetic limb with seven degrees of freedom (three-dimensional translation, three-dimensional orientation, one-dimensional grasping). The participant’s ability to control the prosthetic limb was assessed with clinical measures of upper limb function. This study is registered with, NCT01364480. FINDINGS: The participant was able to move the prosthetic limb freely in the three-dimensional workspace on the second day of training. After 13 weeks, robust seven-dimensional movements were performed routinely. Mean success rate on target-based reaching tasks was 91·6% (SD 4·4) versus median chance level 6·2% (95% CI 2·0-15·3). Improvements were seen in completion time (decreased from a mean of 148 s [SD 60] to 112 s [6]) and path efficiency (increased from 0·30 [0·04] to 0·38 [0·02]). The participant was also able to use the prosthetic limb to do skilful and coordinated reach and grasp movements that resulted in clinically significant gains in tests of upper limb function. No adverse events were reported. INTERPRETATION: With continued development of neuroprosthetic limbs, individuals with long-term paralysis could recover the natural and intuitive command signals for hand placement, orientation, and reaching, allowing them to perform activities of daily living. FUNDING: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Institutes of Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, and UPMC Rehabilitation Institute.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Function, Median, Dimension, Amputation, Upper limb, Prosthesis, Limbs


A major challenge since the invention of implantable devices has been a reliable and long-term stable transcutaneous communication. In the case of prosthetic limbs, existing neuromuscular interfaces have been unable to address this challenge and provide direct and intuitive neural control. Although prosthetic hardware and decoding algorithms are readily available, there is still a lack of appropriate and stable physiological signals for controlling the devices. We developed a percutaneous osseointegrated (bone-anchored) interface that allows for permanent and unlimited bidirectional communication with the human body. With this interface, an artificial limb can be chronically driven by implanted electrodes in the peripheral nerves and muscles of an amputee, outside of controlled environments and during activities of daily living, thus reducing disability and improving quality of life. We demonstrate in one subject, for more than 1 year, that implanted electrodes provide a more precise and reliable control than surface electrodes, regardless of limb position and environmental conditions, and with less effort. Furthermore, long-term stable myoelectric pattern recognition and appropriate sensory feedback elicited via neurostimulation was demonstrated. The opportunity to chronically record and stimulate the neuromuscular system allows for the implementation of intuitive control and naturally perceived sensory feedback, as well as opportunities for the prediction of complex limb motions and better understanding of sensory perception. The permanent bidirectional interface presented here is a critical step toward more natural limb replacement, by combining stable attachment with permanent and reliable human-machine communication.

Concepts: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, Perception, Sense, Prosthetics, Information, Disability, Prosthesis, Artificial limb


Touch perception on the fingers and hand is essential for fine motor control, contributes to our sense of self, allows for effective communication, and aids in our fundamental perception of the world. Despite increasingly sophisticated mechatronics, prosthetic devices still do not directly convey sensation back to their wearers. We show that implanted peripheral nerve interfaces in two human subjects with upper limb amputation provided stable, natural touch sensation in their hands for more than 1 year. Electrical stimulation using implanted peripheral nerve cuff electrodes that did not penetrate the nerve produced touch perceptions at many locations on the phantom hand with repeatable, stable responses in the two subjects for 16 and 24 months. Patterned stimulation intensity produced a sensation that the subjects described as natural and without “tingling,” or paresthesia. Different patterns produced different types of sensory perception at the same location on the phantom hand. The two subjects reported tactile perceptions they described as natural tapping, constant pressure, light moving touch, and vibration. Changing average stimulation intensity controlled the size of the percept area; changing stimulation frequency controlled sensation strength. Artificial touch sensation improved the subjects' ability to control grasping strength of the prosthesis and enabled them to better manipulate delicate objects. Thus, electrical stimulation through peripheral nerve electrodes produced long-term sensory restoration after limb loss.

Concepts: Perception, Sense, Somatosensory system, Amputation, Prosthesis, Artificial organ, Proprioception, Illusion


The human brain contains multiple hand-selective areas, in both the sensorimotor and visual systems. Could our brain repurpose neural resources, originally developed for supporting hand function, to represent and control artificial limbs? We studied individuals with congenital or acquired hand-loss (hereafter one-handers) using functional MRI. We show that the more one-handers use an artificial limb (prosthesis) in their everyday life, the stronger visual hand-selective areas in the lateral occipitotemporal cortex respond to prosthesis images. This was found even when one-handers were presented with images of active prostheses that share the functionality of the hand but not necessarily its visual features (e.g. a ‘hook’ prosthesis). Further, we show that daily prosthesis usage determines large-scale inter-network communication across hand-selective areas. This was demonstrated by increased resting state functional connectivity between visual and sensorimotor hand-selective areas, proportional to the intensiveness of everyday prosthesis usage. Further analysis revealed a 3-fold coupling between prosthesis activity, visuomotor connectivity and usage, suggesting a possible role for the motor system in shaping use-dependent representation in visual hand-selective areas, and/or vice versa. Moreover, able-bodied control participants who routinely observe prosthesis usage (albeit less intensively than the prosthesis users) showed significantly weaker associations between degree of prosthesis observation and visual cortex activity or connectivity. Together, our findings suggest that altered daily motor behaviour facilitates prosthesis-related visual processing and shapes communication across hand-selective areas. This neurophysiological substrate for prosthesis embodiment may inspire rehabilitation approaches to improve usage of existing substitutionary devices and aid implementation of future assistive and augmentative technologies.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Brain, Human brain, Cerebellum, Prosthetics, Prosthesis, Artificial limb


Neural prostheses translate neural activity from the brain into control signals for guiding prosthetic devices, such as computer cursors and robotic limbs, and thus offer individuals with disabilities greater interaction with the world. However, relatively low performance remains a critical barrier to successful clinical translation; current neural prostheses are considerably slower, with less accurate control, than the native arm. Here we present a new control algorithm, the recalibrated feedback intention-trained Kalman filter (ReFIT-KF) that incorporates assumptions about the nature of closed-loop neural prosthetic control. When tested in rhesus monkeys implanted with motor cortical electrode arrays, the ReFIT-KF algorithm outperformed existing neural prosthetic algorithms in all measured domains and halved target acquisition time. This control algorithm permits sustained, uninterrupted use for hours and generalizes to more challenging tasks without retraining. Using this algorithm, we demonstrate repeatable high performance for years after implantation in two monkeys, thereby increasing the clinical viability of neural prostheses.

Concepts: Prosthetics, Control theory, Prosthesis, Artificial limb


Computer vision-based assistive technology solutions can revolutionise the quality of care for people with sensorimotor disorders. The goal of this work was to enable trans-radial amputees to use a simple, yet efficient, computer vision system to grasp and move common household objects with a two-channel myoelectric prosthetic hand.

Concepts: Implants, Artificial intelligence, Prosthetics, Prosthesis, Hand, Artificial limb, Assistive technology, Computer vision


Over time, leg prostheses have improved in design, but have been incapable of actively adapting to different walking velocities in a manner comparable to a biological limb. People with a leg amputation using such commercially available passive-elastic prostheses require significantly more metabolic energy to walk at the same velocities, prefer to walk slower and have abnormal biomechanics compared with non-amputees. A bionic prosthesis has been developed that emulates the function of a biological ankle during level-ground walking, specifically providing the net positive work required for a range of walking velocities. We compared metabolic energy costs, preferred velocities and biomechanical patterns of seven people with a unilateral transtibial amputation using the bionic prosthesis and using their own passive-elastic prosthesis to those of seven non-amputees during level-ground walking. Compared with using a passive-elastic prosthesis, using the bionic prosthesis decreased metabolic cost by 8 per cent, increased trailing prosthetic leg mechanical work by 57 per cent and decreased the leading biological leg mechanical work by 10 per cent, on average, across walking velocities of 0.75-1.75 m s(-1) and increased preferred walking velocity by 23 per cent. Using the bionic prosthesis resulted in metabolic energy costs, preferred walking velocities and biomechanical patterns that were not significantly different from people without an amputation.

Concepts: Energy, Prosthetics, Amputation, Prosthesis, Artificial organ, Artificial limb, C-Leg, Cyborg


The use prosthetic materials for the surgical repair of abdominal wall defects has become almost standard practice. This study was designed to assess the expression of different growth factors (VEGF/TGF-β1) and macrophages during the early host tissue incorporation of several polypropylene lightweight (PP-LW)-including one partially absorbable-and heavyweight (PP-HW) prosthetic meshes.

Concepts: Immune system, Cellular differentiation, Amputation, Prosthesis, Abdominal wall defect