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Thread: Woman with bionic arm regains sense of touch

  1. #1
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Woman with bionic arm regains sense of touch

    Woman with bionic arm regains sense of touch

    A prosthetic arm that moves and feels like the real thing is now a step closer thanks to a new surgical technique which allows the owner to intuitively control her limb and regain her sense of touch.

    Surgeons working on a female amputee in Chicago, US, have re-routed the ends of the motor nerves – which once controlled her arm’s movement – into the muscles in her chest and side. And the ends of the sensory nerves, which fed signals responding to heat and touch from her now-amputated arm to her brain, have been transferred to the skin on her chest.

    Excerpt:
    To make the process more intuitive, Todd Kuiken and colleagues at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago developed a technique called "targeted muscle reinnervation". Motor nerves that once controlled the arm are transferred to nearby muscles, which are then fitted with myoelectric sensors to detect contraction.
    "When the person imagines closing their hand, the signal goes down the nerve. Then we use that signal to control the prosthetic hand," explains prostheticist Laura Miller.

    More

    --

    Wise, if you read this. Is the "targeted muscle reinnervation" technique described above similar to the bladder innervation that is being tried on sci patients?

    How can sci people take advantage of something like this? I'm still curious about the bladder reroute surgery. If there is an 80% success rate in China for the bladder reroute surgery, what about rerouting nerves to perfrom other functions?

    Such as rerouting a nerve, but instead of rerouting for bladder use alone, what about rerouting so that erections can be had and maintained, or nerve reroute so that we can empty our bowels?

    Is this possible? In the bladder cases, people rub another part of their body to empty their bladders, such as the hip or leg, where the nerve has been routed. Why can't the same thing be done for other bodily funtions? Can't we reroute so that by rubbing our legs or hips we achieve an erection, or empty our bowels???

    Seems like there would be many different uses for rerouting nerves besides the bladder alone.
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  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by rdf
    Woman with bionic arm regains sense of touch

    A prosthetic arm that moves and feels like the real thing is now a step closer thanks to a new surgical technique which allows the owner to intuitively control her limb and regain her sense of touch.

    Surgeons working on a female amputee in Chicago, US, have re-routed the ends of the motor nerves – which once controlled her arm’s movement – into the muscles in her chest and side. And the ends of the sensory nerves, which fed signals responding to heat and touch from her now-amputated arm to her brain, have been transferred to the skin on her chest.

    Excerpt:
    To make the process more intuitive, Todd Kuiken and colleagues at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago developed a technique called "targeted muscle reinnervation". Motor nerves that once controlled the arm are transferred to nearby muscles, which are then fitted with myoelectric sensors to detect contraction.
    "When the person imagines closing their hand, the signal goes down the nerve. Then we use that signal to control the prosthetic hand," explains prostheticist Laura Miller.

    More

    --

    Wise, if you read this. Is the "targeted muscle reinnervation" technique described above similar to the bladder innervation that is being tried on sci patients?

    How can sci people take advantage of something like this? I'm still curious about the bladder reroute surgery. If there is an 80% success rate in China for the bladder reroute surgery, what about rerouting nerves to perfrom other functions?

    Such as rerouting a nerve, but instead of rerouting for bladder use alone, what about rerouting so that erections can be had and maintained, or nerve reroute so that we can empty our bowels?

    Is this possible? In the bladder cases, people rub another part of their body to empty their bladders, such as the hip or leg, where the nerve has been routed. Why can't the same thing be done for other bodily funtions? Can't we reroute so that by rubbing our legs or hips we achieve an erection, or empty our bowels???

    Seems like there would be many different uses for rerouting nerves besides the bladder alone.
    rdf,

    There are two kinds of re-routing. The first is re-routing of peripheral nerves below the injury site. This may seem at first blush to be counterproductive. However, when one routes the motor nerves from one segment of the spinal cord to the bladder, those nerves enter the bladder and one can excite those nerves by stimulating the skin innervated by that segment. The second is re-routing of peripheral nerves from above the injury. For example, one can re-route part of the ulnar nerve from the wrist to the quadriceps. There will be both sensory and motor re-routing. If you would like, I can create a figure for you.

    I am not sure what they are doing with this woman. It sounds like they have saved the nerves (instead of amputating them) and rerouted them to her chest muscles that then control the prosthetic.

    Wise.

  3. #3
    Does the RIC info provide any more explanation?

    To provide the neuro-controlled movement of RIC’s Bionic Arm technology, nerves located in the amputee’s shoulder, which once went to the amputated arm, are re-routed and connected to healthy muscle in the chest. This surgical process is called targeted muscle reinnervation. The muscle reinnervation procedure allows the re-routed nerves to grow into the chest muscle and direct the signals they once sent to the amputated arm instead to the robotic arm via surface electrodes. Then, when the patient thinks about moving his or her arm, the action is carried out as voluntarily as it would be in a healthy arm allowing for smoother and easier movement of the prosthetic.

    In other words, the sensation nerves to the hand have been re-routed to a patch of skin on her chest. Now when Ms. Mitchell is touched on this skin, she feels that her hand is being touched. This will eventually let her ‘feel’ what she is touching with an artificial hand, as if she were touching it with her own hand.
    .... READ HERE

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by chick
    Does the RIC info provide any more explanation?

    To provide the neuro-controlled movement of RIC’s Bionic Arm technology, nerves located in the amputee’s shoulder, which once went to the amputated arm, are re-routed and connected to healthy muscle in the chest. This surgical process is called targeted muscle reinnervation. The muscle reinnervation procedure allows the re-routed nerves to grow into the chest muscle and direct the signals they once sent to the amputated arm instead to the robotic arm via surface electrodes. Then, when the patient thinks about moving his or her arm, the action is carried out as voluntarily as it would be in a healthy arm allowing for smoother and easier movement of the prosthetic.

    In other words, the sensation nerves to the hand have been re-routed to a patch of skin on her chest. Now when Ms. Mitchell is touched on this skin, she feels that her hand is being touched. This will eventually let her ‘feel’ what she is touching with an artificial hand, as if she were touching it with her own hand.
    .... READ HERE
    Chick,

    Pressure sensors turn out to be one of the best, if not the best, interface between a limb and a prosthetic device. For example, a professor at Rutgers developed a prosthetic device that uses pressure changes from the stump as the means of controlling the fingers of the prosthetic device. I know a man who has bilateral arm amputations who plays a saxophone with prostheses whose hands are controlled by small changes in pressure in the socket where the stump is inserted into the prosthesis. I like this approach being described.

    Wise.

  5. #5
    video of woman using prosthetic arm.
    Another video compare old and new qualities of prosthetics

    Watch out, the future is coming, let it be known!
    Last edited by cljanney; 02-08-2007 at 05:31 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Yes Wise, if you have time I'd like to see a figure. If possible, can you diagram what the bladder reroute procedure is doing, and explain why it cannot be used to innervate other areas of the body, such as the bowels.

    Also, how radical to sci researchers get? Have they ever done stuff that might be laughable, such as grafting a peripheral nerve across the sci site of an injured rat to see what happens, if anything? To see if plasticity might somehow allow for some connections being sent across the injury site along a grafted peripheral nerve, forcing axons to start growing below the injury level?

    Also, in the bladder reroute surgery, is there any chance at all that due to the plasticitiy of the spinal cord, that the recipients of the bladder reroute will be able to control their bladders by thought alone?

    I mean, could a nerve be routed from above the injury level down to the area below the injury that is to be "stimulated" causing the bladder nerves to react? I mean one nerve from above the injury to the nerve that is to be stimulated, then onto the bladder nerves? A three-way connection that the brain and spinal cord might somehow be able to use in the normal way.

    thanks, I know you're a busy man so only respond if you have the time
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  7. #7
    Here's an update on this story, the article mentions that this process would
    also benefit quads (and presumably other SCI sensory deficits):
    There is a video at the link:
    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/...,1291275.story

    By Cynthia Dizikes, Tribune reporter 12:15 a.m. EDT, June 7, 2011

    University of Chicago researchers aim to design prostheses that will not only be able to move, but would also provide amputees and quadriplegics a sense of touch.

    In an underground laboratory at the University of Chicago, neuroscientist Sliman Bensmaia peered at a computer attached by wires to a rhesus monkey's brain.

    A lab technician grazed the animal's finger using a metal probe, and the computer screen erupted in red.

    "That's pretty cool," Bensmaia said, grinning. "You can see the brain becoming active just by tapping the hand."

    Next, instead of physically tapping the animal's hand, the technician planned to run a small current of electricity through electrodes in the animal's brain to simulate the probe. If the animal looked in a certain direction, the scientists would know the "virtual touch" worked.

    This research is part of a groundbreaking quest to accomplish what was once the stuff of science fiction — build a machine that helps humans feel.

    Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and spurred by the return of injured Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, the research aims to design prostheses that will not only be able to move, but will also provide amputees and quadriplegics with a sense of touch.

    Scientists have known for more than a century that applying electricity to neurons can elicit certain reactions — a muscle twitch, a sudden feeling of euphoria, a long-forgotten memory recalled. But stimulating those cells to help people overcomecertain disabilities has been done only more recently, spearheaded in the 1960s by the development of the cochlear implant for hearing.

    Unlike hearing or vision studies, however, touch research languished for decades, impeded by the expensive machinery needed to perform experiments and a certain "not as sexy" quality, Bensmaia said

    "People take (their sense of touch) for granted more than vision or hearing," he said.

    But then hundreds of wounded veterans began returning to the United States without arms or legs or the use of their limbs because of spinal cord injuries, and interest in developing better prostheses spiked. Through the DARPA project, scientists at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory last year completed a new prosthetic arm that can rotate, twist and bend in 26 ways. Scientists also recently outfitted patients with brain electrodes that allowed them to move simpler robotic arms with their thoughts.

    Without any tactile feedback, however, the usefulness of the prostheses is limited. Lacking the sense of touch, patients could not, for example, differentiate between corduroy and silk, a pen and a pencil or a poke and a punch.

    More important, "they have to constantly be visually monitoring what they are doing or they wouldn't know whether they were holding or crushing something," Bensmaia said.

    So last year, Johns Hopkins gave Bensmaia's lab about $1.5 million of its federal money to develop even more advanced prostheses that will eventually give the users a simulated sense of touch through the machine's metal and motors.

    But how do you replicate the feeling of a coffee cup in your hand or the difference between a five- and a 50-pound weight? The U. of C. scientists set out to identify and replicate the qualities of touch, including texture, shape and force, through complex mathematical equations known as algorithms.

    Scientists implanted platinum alloy electrode arrays, each the size of a pencil eraser, into the monkeys' brains. The scientists then created neural impulses by emitting small but focused electrical currents, and recorded the animal's behavior in response.

    After simulating thousands of touch sensations, Bensmaia and his team hope to build algorithms, essentially mapping out the way the brain reads those touches. They will then use those sensory algorithms to build software for the robotic arm's computerized sensors that will transmit impulses to electrodes in the human brain, mimicking touch.

    Josh Berg, Bensmaia's study director, took a step back from the U. of C. testing room and grasped at an apt summary.

    "Up here, we are not vision, touch or smell," Berg said, grabbing his head. "We are all electricity. What we are trying to do is translate information into a language the brain can understand."

    Since 2006, DARPA, which is part of the Department of Defense, has poured $129 million into its Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. Johns Hopkins University and its collaborators expect to implant electrodes in the first human this summer. A second patient would get implants in 2012 that would include a feedback loop, providing a sense of touch based on algorithms developed in Bensmaia's lab. And a third patient would get implants in 2013 that may allow the patient to wirelessly operate two prosthetic arms, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.

    U. of C. neuroscientist Nicho Hatsopoulos recently applied to work on the development of that wireless system. Hatsopoulos, who specializes in the neuroscience of movement, co-founded Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, which was one of the first companies to implant electrodes in humans in order to control machines with their thoughts.

    "Where we are right now is basically the beginning stages of 'The Six Million Dollar Man,'" Hatsopoulos said, referring to the fictional 1970s TV series about an astronaut turned bionic man. As he spoke, a rhesus monkey moved a cursor around a computer using only his thoughts.

    But some worry that the technology might also be used for more ethically complicated purposes. They imagine soldiers using their thoughts to fly airplanes and maneuver combat robots in war zones. They foresee ordinary people using implanted electrodes to quickly expand their memories, download new information or augment their skills.

    "It is a little scary," Bensmaia said. "It may change the world completely."

    For the moment, however, Bensmaia's focus remains on the groundwork: stimulating neurons and recording those effects. In his lab, Bensmaia leaned over another scientist, attempting to isolate one neuron out of some 100 billion in a rhesus monkey's brain.

    The scientist grazed the animal's third finger. Almost immediately, a thin red line spiked across the computer monitor and a rack of speakers crackled, emitting the amplified sound of a single neuron firing.

    "It's a thing of beauty," Bensmaia said.

    cdizikes@tribune.com


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