Research ArticleMEDICAL ROBOTS

Long-term implant of intramuscular sensors and nerve transfers for wireless control of robotic arms in above-elbow amputees

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Science Robotics  17 Jul 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 32, eaaw6306
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaw6306


Targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) amplifies the electrical activity of nerves at the stump of amputees by redirecting them in remnant muscles above the amputation. The electrical activity of the reinnervated muscles can be used to extract natural control signals. Nonetheless, current control systems, mainly based on noninvasive muscle recordings, fail to provide accurate and reliable control over time. This is one of the major reasons for prosthetic abandonment. This prospective interventional study includes three unilateral above-elbow amputees and reports the long-term (2.5 years) implant of wireless myoelectric sensors in the reinnervation sites after TMR and their use for control of robotic arms in daily life. It therefore demonstrates the clinical viability of chronically implanted myoelectric interfaces that amplify nerve activity through TMR. The patients showed substantial functional improvements using the implanted system compared with control based on surface electrodes. The combination of TMR and chronically implanted sensors may drastically improve robotic limb replacement in above-elbow amputees.

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