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Advances In Neuronal Control Of Prosthetic Devices

901 words - 4 pages


Every year, thousands of Americans are paralyzed in accidents. As a result researchers are currently looking into ways to help paralyzed patients carry out their daily duties and bring control to their lives. Bringing movement to those who are currently incapable of doing so could be accomplished through several methods. Recently, a robotic arm was made by the Chicago Rehabilitation Institute which was placed on an amputee’s shoulder, and functioned by monitoring nerve impulses from the subject. While this new technology proved to be a success, it has its drawbacks. Mainly, the subject must have a healthy or undamaged nervous system to allow the impulses to travel to the robotic limb. This limits this technology’s use to healthy amputees for the time being. The subject of this website deals with another technology which has been under recent development uses an electrode implanted into the motor cortex of the brain. When the subject thinks about moving the cursor on the screen, a computer analyzes the impulses detected by the electrode, and moves the cursor in the intended direction. Devices using this technique are referred to as Neuromotor Prostheses (NMP). NMP’s holds much potential for those with spinal cord injuries and other conditions which damage the motor neurons of the body because it bypasses these areas and is controlled directly by the brain. Experiments with injured subjects who suffer from tetraplegia (all 4 limbs paralyzed) were successful in showing that a NMP could allow a person to control a cursor on the screen using only the intention to do so . While NMPs have shown great promise, they are still only in the earliest phases of development. Currently, only 2-D directional control is possible, and the electrode degrades after several months in the motor cortex. Once these setbacks are resolved, NMP technology will continue to develop, and hopefully one day provide at least some degree of freedom and willed control to those who up to that time had very little.

Methods and Materials

Aim: Enable spinal cord injury victims lost motor functions by corresponding the action potentials to an alternate device

Incorporating individuals suffering from tetraparesis from spinal cord injury, brainstem stroke, muscular dystrophy, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, neuromotor prostheses are used to send signals to external receptors in the place of lost internal receptors (i.e. absence of useable muscle of limbs). Consent regarding the pending array (multiple electrodes) was obtained prior to the surgical insertion (which has yet to be published). In order to record possible neurons despite the differentiating layers, the array was inserted into the arm/hand. The signals run through an external apparatus and cross the skin in order to reach an internal apparatus on the skull, which translates...

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