Arizona State University researcher James Abbas is part of a multinational research team who developed a new prosthetic handheld system with a fully implanted, wirelessly controlled neurostimulator that "felt" a person with a hand amputation.
The research, announced today at the annual meeting of the Society for Neurology, marks the first time that a person is equipped with a neural-enabled prosthetic hand (NEPH) that can be used outside the laboratory in everyday living environment. Unlike commercially available prosthetic handheld systems that are currently on the market and send only electrical signals from the muscles to trigger arm opening and closing arms, the NEPH system works in a two-way system that stimulates small groups of sensor fibers in the peripheral nerves of the user's touch.
For the first time, the NEPH system user can evaluate whether he touched something, "felt" opening and closing his arm, and even estimate how tightly he seizes the item while the nerve fibers in his rest are stimulated by fine wires that are implanted inside the nerve.
Abbas, associate professor of biomedical engineering in Inđama A. Fulton School of Engineering, has begun work on this integrated team of efforts with leading researcher Ranu Jung more than ten years ago, while colleagues at the School of Biological and Health Systems at ASU.
"Our system is the first to handle long-term use outside the laboratory setting," says Abas, who manages the ASU Center for Adaptive Neural Systems and has expertise in neural engineering and medical rehabilitation techniques. "All components are either mounted on the prosthesis or embedded in the body. The system is known because it does not differ from the use and wear of a regular prosthesis, but now, when touched, something is felt in the phantom arm and the fingers that it lost."
The team's research is based on the pioneering work of the FIU professor Kenneth Horch and extends sensor technology outside the laboratory.
"The participant reported increased confidence in carrying out everyday tasks, is able to communicate with the objects around him and determine the answers to the questions surrounding the sensation, such as" Did I touch it? "How severe is it?" Said Jung, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the International University of Florida. "I am so grateful to the participant to believe in our research and give us the opportunity to work with him to test our technology. I hope it will improve life for the better."
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the exemption of a research apparatus to test the first human NEPH system in 2016. A trial participant who had previously undergone transdermal amputation of the upper extremities received a surgical implant to control the NEPH system nearly eight months ago. The operation was performed by dr. Aaron Berger and his team from the Nicklaus Children's Hospital. After a period of laboratory experiments using the systems and assembly procedures, he daily used the system every day in his home for four months.
This NEPH system is the first in a series of opportunities for advancement in medicine using similar neuralizing devices. In the future, Abbas predicts the use of sensing stimulation technology in a much larger population of people with lower limb amputations.
In addition, the team hopes that their work can contribute to the growing field of bioelectronic medicine, which aims and stimulates neurons to treat metabolic or digestive diseases and relieves pain as an alternative to taking drugs to regulate biological processes. The success of the team with the implantation of long-term use of wireless technology to stimulate peripheral nerves can have significant clinical implications in the future.
Materials provided by State University of Arizona. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.