Feeds

Boffins refine mind-to-prosthetic link

Cogito ergo moveo

High performance access to file storage

Scientists in the US have developed a technique that could massively improve the control amputees have over their prosthetic limbs.

The technique, known as targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) allows a motorised prosthesis to respond directly to the brain's signals.

The research has been led by Dr Todd Kuiken, a physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and professor at Northwestern University. He explains: "The idea is that when you lose your arm, you lose the motors, the muscles, and the structural elements of the bones. But the control information should still be there in the residual nerves."

So Kuiken took the residual nerves that used to be associated with a patient's arms, and connected them up to the chest muscles. Some of the patients said when researchers touched their chests, they could feel a sensation in the limbs they no longer had, a phenomenon similar to the ghost limbs some amputees experience.

Crudely speaking, when the patient thinks about moving the missing limb, the nerves (now reconnected to the chest muscle) are stimulated. This causes the chest muscle to contract, which sends an electrical impulse to the prosthesis.

So far the team reports patients are able to "instruct" their new limb to make four fairly crude movements: open and close hand, and bend and straighten elbow. But new research, published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, has shown that the technique has the potential to do far more.

The researchers placed 79 to 128 electrodes on the chest muscles of a group of five patients. Using an EMG (electromyogram), they tried to identify the distinct signals associated with 16 arm and hand movements, right down to manipulation of missing fingers and thumbs. The team reports an accurate recognition rate of 95 per cent.

The work also demonstrated that the neural pathways associated with a limb remain intact for nine to 15 months after the event that leads to an amputation, the team says.

The researchers are now working with US servicemen who have lost limbs in the line of duty. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.