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Spinal Neuroprosthesis Devices and the Control of Artificial Limbs

Recently, our research has evolved to include the study of the neurophysiology of sensory-motor systems of vertebrate and its application to the development of neuroprosthesis devices for spinal cord injuries and for upper limb replacement. This work leads to the understanding of how to interface electronics with the nervous system and how to use biological signals to control biomorphic robots. We have recently demonstrated in vitro control of the spinal circuits responsible for locomotion in a lamprey.1 To our knowledge, this is the first example of artificially generating signals similar to what is produced by the mid-brain of lampreys to change the cycle-by-cycle behavior of segmental CPG networks in the spinal cord. We have also demonstrated the first in vivo example, to our knowledge, of using a silicon model of the cat's hind limb CPG network to make a "paralyzed" cat.2 These two results will form the basis of an implantable device that will perform intra-spinal-micro-stimulation (ISMS) to mitigate spinal cord injuries. We are poised to receive an NIH RO1 for this work, having received a 9% score on a pending proposal. We are also participating in the DARPA's "Revolutionary Prosthesis" project for developing dexterous upper limb prosthesis for amputees. We have achieved some success implementing both cortical and EMG controlled finger movements for the Phase I prototype limb, on for which journal papers are currently being written.3 As we move towards Phase II, we will also be working on the sensory and haptic feedback to the amputee.

References

  1. ["Control of Locomotion After Injury or Amputation," Biological Cybernetics, Vol. 95, No. 6, pp. 555-566, December 2006; "Phase-Dependent Effects of Stimulation of the Spinal Central Pattern Generator for Locomotion," IEEE Trans. Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 257-265, September 2006; "Electrical Stimulation of a Spinal Central Pattern Generator for Locomotion," Proc. 2nd International IEEE EMBS Conference on Neural Engineering, Arlington, VA, March 2005]
  2. ["A Silicon Central Pattern Generator Controls Locomotion in vivo," submitted to IEEE T. Biomedical Engineering, Summer 2007; "A Silicon Central Pattern Generator Controls Locomotion in vivo," Neural Interfaces Workshop, Bethesda, MD, 2006 (abstract)]
  3. ["Towards the Control of Individual Fingers of a Prosthetic Hand Using Surface EMG Signals," accepted to 29th IEEE EMBS International Conference, Lyon, France, August 2007; "Towards a Brain-Computer Interface for Dexterous Control of a Multi-Fingered Prosthetic Hand," accepted to IEEE EMBS NeuroEngineering, Honolulu, HI, USA, Summer 2007; "Real-time Neuronal Decoding for Individuated and Combined Finger Movements of a Robotic Hand," accepted for 2007 BMES Annual Meeting, Summer 2007 (extended abstract)]