Neurointerfaces “undo” disability




Neurointerfaces “undo” disability

Experts defense research agency DARPA announced significant progress in the area of ​​muscle neurointerfaces being developed in the framework of a special military program RE-NET.

Progress in the area of ​​peripheral (muscle) interfaces has long remained in the shadows: the media attention is mainly focused on brain neurointerfaces, that is, those that relate directly to the brain prosthesis. Many of the nuances of the implantation of electrodes into the brain and the use of other technologies read brain impulses are already known, but in terms of muscle interfaces, like, little progress there.

However, this is not the case: peripheral interfaces are actively involved in the U.S. military. The fact that in the case of amputations, e.g. hand or foot to the knee, the use of sophisticated invasive brain neurointerfaces not justified: it was easier to read nerve impulses from nerves of the affected limb. Thus the Pentagon hopes to return to a normal life of at least 2,000 soldiers who have lost arms and legs since 2000.

In DARPA consider muscle neurointerfaces very promising and are actively working on related technologies that will provide reliable and long-lasting prosthetic connection with the human nervous system. In addition, the term can be used like neurointerfaces and healthy soldiers – to manage special purpose vehicles and equipment.

At the request of DARPA, new peripheral interfaces, developed under the RE-NET, has already come close to those of the best contemporary neurointerfaces brain and thus exhibit more stability and a better survival rate in the body of the recipient.

According to DARPA project manager Jack Judy, peripheral interfaces are not as traumatic as the brain, making them ideal for rapid rehabilitation of amputees. Currently, the first prototypes of systems RE-NET is already being tested on wounded soldiers.

In particular, it is a special type of peripheral interface TMR, which is developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). This provides neyrointerfeys re innervation of muscles, and as a replacement for an amputated body part appears artificially created mehanoelektronny prosthesis. TMR not only allows you to control a prosthesis, as his own hand or foot, but also the sensitivity of returns, though now in the role of tactile sensors are not acting receptors in the skin, and the sensors in the artificial surface prosthesis.

Unlike most other interfaces, TMR does not require visual communication with the prosthesis, which means that they can be operated blindly, as well as the usual live arm. It seems a minor achievement, but nonetheless, it is an important part of our daily life. For example, we roemsya in your bag for your keys without looking inside – most recently of the possibility of such a prosthesis with disabilities could not even dream of.

The work of the TMR will continue until 2016. Apparently, after 10 years of universal peripheral neyrointerfeys will be ready for prime time.

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