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Prosthetics Easier to Use with Innervation


Prosthetic arms don't normally come with nerve control. This makes function a challenge. This may be changing. Prosthetics became easier to use with new nerve innervation.

A new study reported in the Feb 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association describes a new surgical technique called targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR) which can be used to improve control of myoelectric prostheses.

TMR transfers residual arm nerves to alternative muscle sites such as chest or upper-arm muscles that no longer function due to the loss of the limb. When the target muscles become reinnervated, they produce electromyogram (EMG) signals on the surface of the skin. These signals can be measured and used to control prosthetic arms.

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The TMR techniques allows patients improved control of their prosthesis, including opening and closing of the hand, extension and flexion of the elbow.

The early trial are very encouraging and have shown the possibility of using TMR for improved complex multifunctional prostheses. The amputee patients learned quickly and intuitively.

The study was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Army Research Office, DEKA Integrated Solution Corp., and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Targeted muscle reinnervation for real-time myoelectric control of multifunction artificial arms" JAMA 2009; 301: 619-28.; Kuiken T, et al

"Taking control of prosthetic arms" JAMA 2009; 301: 670-71; Loeb G