Thought-Controlled Prosthetics

Physiatrist Todd A Kuiken, MD PhD, has pioneered a technique known as targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR), that allows a prosthetic arm to respond directly to the brain’s signals, allowing wearers to open and close their artificial hands and bend and straighten their artificial elbows nearly as naturally as their own arms. Doctors first perform nerve transfer surgery to redirect nerves that go to the amputated arm to the patient’s chest muscles. Then when the chest muscle contracts, an electromyogram picks up the electrical signal to move the prosthetic arm. So when the patient thinks close hand, the hand closes. Now the team wants to see if they can extract more information from the electrical signals produced by the nerves to provide a greater number of hand and arm movements. They have been able to identify unique EMG patterns with 95% accuracy for 16 different elbow, wrist, hand, thumb and finger movements — via Slashdot

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