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Evidence indicates that user acceptance of modern artificial limbs by amputees would be significantly enhanced by a system that provides appropriate, graded, distally referred sensations of touch and joint movement, and that the functionality of limb prostheses would be improved by a more natural control mechanism. We have recently demonstrated that it is possible to implant electrodes within individual fascicles of peripheral nerve stumps in amputees, that stimulation through these electrodes can produce graded, discrete sensations of touch or movement referred to the amputee's phantom hand, and that recordings of motor neuron activity associated with attempted movements of the phantom limb through these electrodes can be used as graded control signals. We report here that this approach allows amputees to both judge and set grip force and joint position in an artificial arm, in the absence of visual input, thus providing a substrate for better integration of the artificial limb into the amputee's body image. We believe this to be the first demonstration of direct neural feedback from and direct neural control of an artificial arm in amputees.
Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:13 , Issue: 4 )
Date of Publication: Dec. 2005