The Strategist

Prosthetic Electrodes To Restore Amputee’s Tactile Sense


06/12/2015 - 15:49



The research team led by Daniel Morgan has discovered a certain “prosthetic electrode” which is apparently capable of making an amputee feel through the surface of his prosthetic device.



Thestrategist.media – 10 June 2015 – Andrew Tarantola writing on engaget.com informs about “prosthetic electrodes” which could potentially change the life of any amputee.
 
Modern prosthetics aim at delivering the patients with the experience of near normal condition after an amputation surgery. The life changing incident need not be negatively “life changing” at-all, as the power to control “prosthetics” with human mind is not a new concept in the said field.
 
It is a new and “non-evasive” method, “developed” at the Houston University, whereby with the help of the “control electronics”, directly implanted into the patient’s body, amputees able to “command” their automata like limbs. This level of control was achieved with the help of a wearable “thinking cap”, namely “an ECG” monitoring the brain signals. When the patient thought of executing an action like picking up an object, the ECG recognised the brain wave pattern and converts the same “into mechanical motion”.
 
Such ventures into the prosthetic field stemmed from the intentions:
“...to develop an artificial hand that offered a large degree of functionality without the brutal prices associated with prosthetics”.
 
Moreover, the advancement made in the prosthetics to build “more responsive prosthetic devices” will also aid in collecting valuable data as to “how our brains communicate with our limbs”, whereby further improvement in the treatment process for “people suffering from stroke or spinal injuries” can be devised.
 
In spite of all these freedom combined with modern functionalities provided by prosthetics, so far it had failed to deliver the users with the sensory experience of touch. As a result the users could not sense “what they're touching”. However, this trend is likely to change soon. As reported by engadget, “an innovative electrode” has been found that has the capability to connect a robotic prosthetic arm’s mechanical tactile sensory to the nervous-system of a human being on whom the device is attached.
 
The said tool has been designed as a part of “DARPA project”, which is a three year long venture of “$1.9 billion”. It is being carried out at “Washington University in St. Louis” under the guidance of “Daniel Moran and his team”. The research team under Daniel Moran, has developed the said electrode, made out of a thin material like contact lens, the diameter of which is less than twenty percent from that of a dime.
 
The said electrode, technically speaking, is termed as “a macro-sieve peripheral nerve interface”, which apparently stimulates the median and ulnar, that are present on the upper arm of a human being. Consequently, the users will be able experience the various intensities of cold, heat and pressure applied on the surface of the prosthetic arm.
 
Nevertheless, the research team led by Daniel Moran, needs to find out the quantity of “sensory information” that are encoded in a “natural system” ere they can commence “incorporating” the encoded information “into people”. In order to achieve this feat, the scientists will implant the “prototypes” into "nonhuman” primates’ forearms to monitor “the stimulation of peripheral nerves” with the help of a technique called “current steering”. In Moran’s words:
"We want to see what they can perceive. If we stimulate this sector of the nerve, that tells them to reach to one side in a standard reaching task. We want to figure out how small we can make the stimulation so they can still sense it."





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