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Research promises a more capable prosthetic limb

There may be new hope for patients suffering from limb loss. A new control system pioneered by Todd A. Kuiken, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Northwestern University and physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, allows fine manipulation of prosthetic arms and suggests that even more control is possible.

Targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) allows prosthesis to respond directly to the brain's signaling, rather than relying on muscle movements like in typical prosthetics. Kuiken came up with the idea for TMR as a graduate student in the 1980s. Rather than learning to control muscle groups in the chest, patients who have undergone TMR simply think of opening their hand, and the hand on the prosthetic opens.

TMR works by rerouting the remaining nerves from the amputated limb to muscles in the chest. Instead of controlling the chest muscles, when a patient wants to grasp something with his hand, the signals from the rerouted nerves cause the muscles in the chest to flex. An electromyogram picks up the electrical signals from the muscle's contraction, and sends it to a microprocessor in the prosthesis. The processor decodes the signal and moves the limb in the intended manner.

So far the system is capable of opening and closing a hand, and bending and straightening an elbow. The microprocessor can be programmed for more signals and further research being done on 16 different movements in the arm and hand promises more range of movement than just the elbow and hand. Fine hand movements such as grasping a pen or tool are not out of the question.

Kuiken and colleagues have also begun work with the military to help soldiers have lost limbs. Brooke Army Medical Center and the Walter Reed Army Hospital are actively involved in the project.

"We're excited to move forward in doing this surgery with our soldiers some day. We've been able to demonstrate remarkable control of artificial limbs and it's an exciting neural machine interface that provides a lot of hope," Kuiken said of the project.


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Awesome
By FITCamaro on 11/15/2007 12:24:58 PM , Rating: 5
I hope more and more research into this area continues to happen. The majority of the need for this is obviously our wounded veterans. And they deserve the best we can give them.

Hopefully one day we'll have prosthetics that give near human abilities in motion and precision. Not just for injured veterans (since hopefully after the war in Iraq is done, we won't have any more soon), but for victims of accidents and other medical problems.




RE: Awesome
By Polynikes on 11/15/2007 12:36:04 PM , Rating: 2
This tech will probably result in the military giving these improved prosthetics to wounded warriors and putting them back in action. I know the Marine Corps would like to. ;) (This is spoken by a former Marine. I'm just kidding.)


RE: Awesome
By ZaethDekar on 11/15/2007 1:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
Actually I think it would be possible.

If Timmy over here lost an eye and an arm then he gets a new eye with the ability to have night vision and able to zoom in and out then you give him a m16 and he wouldn't have to worry about the recoil of the rifle and he could see someone 10x farther away. It would be the most devistating army as the enemy wouldn't know where the attackers are at.

However this may be wonderful but I think it would turn into a tech war with China &/or Japan as they are building robots that are close to functioning as humans.

The next 20 years will be very interesting indeed!


RE: Awesome
By rdeegvainl on 11/16/2007 8:41:47 AM , Rating: 2
Really though, the recoil of the M-16 is next to none, and it's wouldn't be able to fire much farther than anyone else with a much higher accuracy rate, due to the maximum effective range isn't so much affected by the user, but the environment. But still it's cool to think about.


RE: Awesome
By fic2 on 11/15/07, Rating: -1
RE: Awesome
By FITCamaro on 11/15/2007 2:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
Last I checked Bush is pushing for more money to go to veterans hospitals to care for our wounded soldiers.


RE: Awesome
By Manch on 11/15/2007 3:07:28 PM , Rating: 2
So people that voted for Bush don't want the best for our troops? That's a hell of an assumption.


One step closer to the direct neural interface
By honorabili on 11/15/2007 1:41:57 PM , Rating: 2
Like in Shadowrun/Cyberpunk/Robocop, we're getting closer to true cyberware.




RE: One step closer to the direct neural interface
By shaw on 11/15/2007 7:56:58 PM , Rating: 3
If it was like Shadowrun, we'd be in a party and you'd always be hacking a door somewhere and you wouldn't be able to explain to me how magic works.


By LeviBeckerson (blog) on 11/16/2007 2:17:30 AM , Rating: 2
Too true, too true. Heh.


Next step?
By Amiga500 on 11/15/2007 2:24:20 PM , Rating: 2
I assume this is connecting them up to the damaged nerve endings themselves and letting the brain sort it out?

I remember on tomorrow's world years ago seeing scientists reattach the spinal cord of a lab mouse with stem cells - they didn't bother to route the nerves, they let them criss cross etc - the mouse's brain was able to adapt and provide the correct coordination for muscle movements.




RE: Next step?
By geddarkstorm on 11/15/2007 3:33:34 PM , Rating: 2
"TMR works by rerouting the remaining nerves from the amputated limb to muscles in the chest. Instead of controlling the chest muscles, when a patient wants to grasp something with his hand, the signals from the rerouted nerves cause the muscles in the chest to flex."

I assumed that too, till I read that far. So no, it's no direct nerve connection, but a rerouting of the normal nerves to the chest and the prosthetic watches that for movements. It wouldn't be whole chest movements I am guessing, but rather small twitches in spots that wouldn't do so if you were thinking about actually moving the chest on purpose instead of the hand (and having that hand signal sent to the chest).

It's a nifty system that makes things easier and more intuitive, but no where near as advanced as if they did hook up to nerves directly, which would be a major breakthrough. At least that's what I gather from reading it.


RE: Next step?
By Amiga500 on 11/16/2007 5:00:56 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, on re-reading my post, I can see how you've interpreted it that way, poor sentence construction on my part.

I meant will the next step be going direct from the nerves.

Me bad.


why couldn't they just read the signals?
By HighWing on 11/15/2007 2:45:49 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
TMR works by rerouting the remaining nerves from the amputated limb to muscles in the chest. ..the signals from the rerouted nerves cause the muscles in the chest to flex. An electromyogram picks up the electrical signals from the muscle's contraction, and sends it to a microprocessor in the prosthesis. The processor decodes the signal and moves the limb in the intended manner.


Ok is it just me or does the whole process of re-routing the signals seem unnecessary... I mean if they already know how to re-route the signals, why can't they just set it up so the processor can pick up THOSE signals rather then re-routing them?




RE: why couldn't they just read the signals?
By geddarkstorm on 11/15/2007 3:46:45 PM , Rating: 3
From all I understand, nerve signals aren't simply electronic. There is an action potential, but the real signal is sent by the type of neural transmitters a particular nerve is set up to release at a particular time (which is why drugs affect nerves--a drug isn't electrical, but it can mimic a neural transmitter and screwup all the signals in the brain). The action potential will be identical in either case that you want to relax or contract a muscle, it's just different nerves will be used, or the same nerve got a different nerve's signal and switched which neural transmitter it was shipping to the synapse. You can't just hook up an electrode to a nerve and have it make sense. This isn't even to mention the ratio of transmitters released, and the overall concentrations all cause slightly different outputs. Neural signaling is incredibly complex and more like analogue instead of digital; the action potential is only a "release what's been prepared" signal, not the signal itself.

So then, by simply watching the twitch initiated by the proper signals in the chest muscles, the processor can fine tune the specific movement, degree of movement, and so forth. There's a lot of translation that still has to go on, which is why it's a breakthrough in its own right. None the less, there's no way yet to make complete sense of a nerve impulse by itself as it can mean so many different things (some nerves are much easier to translate than others just by the degree and frequency of their action potentials; such as optical nerves which are committed to one signal so you don't have to worry so much about which neural transmitter is being use, but in general this is not the case); not till there are systems to detect neural transmitters and translate that correctly.


By Manch on 11/15/2007 8:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
Measuring the twitch of the muscle is used because measuring the contraction is far easier than decoding the nerves signal itself. Also measuring these is easy using a couple of leads.

The muscle acts as a sort of potentiometer. The electrical signal from the muscle can be measured using electromyography. They can measure Voltage and Frequency. Measuring these they can mimic to a degree how fast(frequency) how much force(voltage) etc.


GREAT!
By sj420 on 11/15/07, Rating: -1
RE: GREAT!
By dflynchimp on 11/15/2007 12:41:08 PM , Rating: 3
"run faster than a train, jump higher than buildings (and smash into them) and crush skulls with one hand!"

hmm...lemme think...where have I seen that before...

CRYSIS!!! BOOYAH!!!


RE: GREAT!
By FITCamaro on 11/15/2007 12:42:29 PM , Rating: 5
I think there's a moral statute which states that no one who uses the word (if you want to call it a word) "pwn" gets cybernetic limbs. Guess you didn't get the memo. :)


RE: GREAT!
By sj420 on 11/15/2007 1:31:49 PM , Rating: 1
Well, that couldn't be because then we would live in China.

So, no, you're wrong. :P

Besides, the actual moral statute that you would be speaking of is that people like to think you lose your human soul when you turn your body into titanium.

I like to think not, considering you would still have your brain, thoughts, memories, etc. As long as your brain didn't get crushed or destroyed in some other manner you could always get repaired, upgrades, and so on.

If you ever wanted to live forever, this technology is just the pioneering stages of such a feat. Some don't want to live forever, some do. Not simply because "they want to live forever" but because they don't want to die in such an early part of the future. They want to live longer and see what the world becomes and be apart of it. If I can't pilot a mech in this century I will live until I can!


RE: GREAT!
By FITCamaro on 11/15/2007 2:33:23 PM , Rating: 2
Wow......that was a joke......so.......yeah.....


RE: GREAT!
By kenji4life on 11/15/2007 9:22:21 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I like to think not, considering you would still have your brain, thoughts, memories, etc. As long as your brain didn't get crushed or destroyed in some other manner you could always get repaired, upgrades, and so on.


KRANG FTW

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Krang.gif


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