Research ArticleNEUROTECHNOLOGY

A regenerative peripheral nerve interface allows real-time control of an artificial hand in upper limb amputees

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Science Translational Medicine  04 Mar 2020:
Vol. 12, Issue 533, eaay2857
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aay2857

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Hand(some) prosthetic technology

Neuroprosthetic devices providing tactile feedback sensation have been recently developed. Electrodes stimulating peripheral nerves have been shown to provide patients with the sense of touch and pressure when using upper limb prosthesis. Moreover, targeted muscle innervation can provide prosthesis control. However, the number of independent movements is still limited. Now, Vu et al. showed that regenerative peripheral nerve interfaces (RPNIs) implanted in upper limb amputees allowed the control of finger movements using hand prosthesis for almost a year without the need for adjustments. The results suggest that RNPIs could provide a stable and improved upper limb prosthesis control.

Abstract

Peripheral nerves provide a promising source of motor control signals for neuroprosthetic devices. Unfortunately, the clinical utility of current peripheral nerve interfaces is limited by signal amplitude and stability. Here, we showed that the regenerative peripheral nerve interface (RPNI) serves as a biologically stable bioamplifier of efferent motor action potentials with long-term stability in upper limb amputees. Ultrasound assessments of RPNIs revealed prominent contractions during phantom finger flexion, confirming functional reinnervation of the RPNIs in two patients. The RPNIs in two additional patients produced electromyography signals with large signal-to-noise ratios. Using these RPNI signals, subjects successfully controlled a hand prosthesis in real-time up to 300 days without control algorithm recalibration. RPNIs show potential in enhancing prosthesis control for people with upper limb loss.

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