New sensor makes prosthetic arms move more freely through neural signs-NewsCO

February 9, 2017

Emerging technologies are giving new hope for the handicapped and physically disabled people. The latest one is a new sensor, which “picks up nerve signals from the spinal cord could let people control a prosthetic arm by simply imagining the movement they want to make,” according to an article in New Scientist.

Prosthetic arms are commonly used by the disabled, but it is hard to perform demanding movements through these. A research team from the University Medical Centre Göttingen has introduced the new technique that allows receiving signals from motor neurons in the spinal cord, which then make the prosthetic arm perform more challenging tasks.

“In principal, we can reproduce all of the motion of a real limb this way, giving patients much greater dexterity,” Darino Farina, the lead researcher, said. “To make the nerve signals strong enough for the sensor to pick up, they had some nerves associated with hand and arm movements surgically rerouted to muscles in their chest. This effectively amplifies the nerve signals, making them easier for the sensor to read.”

Previously, BrainRobotics, a Massachusetts-based startup, showed its prosthesis that can be controlled by residual muscle strength of an amputee with better efficiency than similar devices, according to developers.

Bicheng Han, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University who founded the group, said the goal is to “provide low cost functional prosthetics” at a cost of around $3,000, or far less than the tens of thousands of dollars for similar devices.

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