Interfacing bionic prostheses with the peripheral nervous system will allow amputees to receive tactile feedback from their prosthesis and volitionally control it akin to their biological limbs.
The goal of the Neural Interfaces Laboratory is to develop implantable devices that provide bi-directional communication between the peripheral nerves in an amputees residual limb and the microcontroller circuitry of multi-degree of freedom powered prostheses. Realization of this goal will allow the prosthesis user’s brain and nerves to effortlessly coordinate the movements of the prosthesis knee and ankle joints simultaneously so that limb motions are smooth and natural during normal ambulation and stair climbing, or when attempting purely volitional activities such as transferring from sitting to standing.
In addition to obtaining volitional motor commands from the residual limb nerves, the neural interface is intended to allow the sensory nerves to be electrically activated so that sensations of tactile events and an awareness of joint position can be provided from the prosthesis to the amputee user. The scope of the projects within the lab includes: implantable hardware development and testing; researching the neurobiology of directed peripheral nerve regeneration; software for transforming neural activity into command signals; and neural encoding of tactile and proprioception events.
Ron Riso, Katherine Song, Hugh Herr