An osseointegrated human-machine gateway for long-term sensory feedback and motor control of artificial limbs
Journal article, 2014
A major challenge since the invention of implantable devices has been a reliable and long-term stable transcutaneous communication. In the case of prosthetic limbs, existing neuromuscular interfaces have been unable to address this challenge and provide direct and intuitive neural control. Although prosthetic hardware and decoding algorithms are readily available, there is still a lack of appropriate and stable physiological signals for controlling the devices. We developed a percutaneous osseointegrated (bone-anchored) interface that allows for permanent and unlimited bidirectional communication with the human body. With this interface, an artificial limb can be chronically driven by implanted electrodes in the peripheral nerves and muscles of an amputee, outside of controlled environments and during activities of daily living, thus reducing disability and improving quality of life. We demonstrate in one subject, for more than 1 year, that implanted electrodes provide a more precise and reliable control than surface electrodes, regardless of limb position and environmental conditions, and with less effort. Furthermore, long-term stable myoelectric pattern recognition and appropriate sensory feedback elicited via neurostimulation was demonstrated. The opportunity to chronically record and stimulate the neuromuscular system allows for the implementation of intuitive control and naturally perceived sensory feedback, as well as opportunities for the prediction of complex limb motions and better understanding of sensory perception. The permanent bidirectional interface presented here is a critical step toward more natural limb replacement, by combining stable attachment with permanent and reliable human-machine communication.