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University Envisages Improvements in Artificial Arm

Concerted efforts by the University of Utah researchers in the development and testing of a 'peripheral nerve interface' which is an implanted device// that would transmit the nerve impulses from nerves in the residual limb to a small computer worn on a belt and then to the bionic arm. This will facilitate the person to move the artificial limb like a real one.

Sensors placed in the artificial arm will be designed to transmit signals to the computer and on to the interface device, which would relay the signals to nerves in the remainder of the amputated arm and then to the brain, allowing the person using it to sense the arm's motion and location, and to feel objects with the mechanical hand and fingers.

The neural interface device between the arm and the person wearing it would be implanted in the remainder of the amputated arm or shoulder, and would transmit signals wirelessly to the artificial arm via the belt-pack computer. The interface device would use a modified Utah Electrode Array, a pill-sized device containing 100 tiny electrodes that was developed by University of Utah bioengineering Professor Richard Normann.

If this device gets selected for the bionic arm, electrode arrays will be implanted in some or all of the four major nerves in the residual limbs of people with upper-arm amputations. Each of the 100 electrodes would selectively 'listen' or 'talk' to a small number of fibers in a nerve. A prototype of the bionic arm will be available for testing in four years.

Source: Eureka Alert
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