Brain-controlled prosthetic arm restores amputee’s sense of touch
Prosthetic limbs are a good way to resurrect your lost confidence when there is no hope left after losing your arm or legs. Artificial limbs have come a long way when we consider their motor ability and the brain signal sensors that actuate the movement of these prosthetic limbs. Another milestone has been achieved in the field of artificial body parts as Magnus, a truck driver from Northern Sweden got himself a new breed of prosthetic arm that is connected directly to his bone, muscle and nerves as opposed to other prosthetics that are connected to the body via surface electrodes. He got the prosthetic arm fitted on using a technique called Osseointegrated Human-Machine Gateway (OHMG) that inserted seven electrodes into his arm for neural control.
The arm was fitted by Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan and associate professor Rickard Branemark who are currently heading further study to improve current line of prosthetics at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. According to Max this method ensures more stability and control of the person over the mechanical arm as the brain is able to interface with the control system of the arm via neuromuscular electrodes. In fact a perfect combination of body and machine working together.
This technique facilitates Magnus, who is simply elated with his new prosthetic arm and feels that it behaves like his normal arm and doesn’t address any discomfort even when worn for a whole day. Moreover it doesn’t require any socket adjustment and eliminates any sores or pains that are caused by traditional prosthetics.
According to Max Ortiz Catalan:
Reliable communication between the prosthesis and the body has been the missing link for the clinical implementation of neural control and sensory feedback, and this is now in place. So far we have shown that the patient has a long-term stable ability to perceive touch in different locations in the missing hand. Intuitive sensory feedback and control are crucial for interacting with the environment, for example to reliably hold an object despite disturbances or uncertainty. Today, no patient walks around with a prosthesis that provides such information, but we are working towards changing that in the very short term.
Image Courtesy: Ortiz Catalan et al., Science Translational Medicine