Neurostimulation-Enabled Prosthetic Hand Delivers Sensory Input

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

In a first-in-human trial of the neural-enabled prosthetic hand (NEPH) system, promising results have been announced by the Florida Interenational University, investigator Ranu Jung, and the Adaptive Neural Systems Laboratory Team. The NEPH system was granted an investigational-device exemption in 2016 by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Jason Little, the first person to be fitted with the NEPH said, "Recouping the ability to feel objects again is like having my hand back, which is something I never thought possible. It's an absolute gamechanger for me." 

Mr. Little’s hand was amputated after a traumatic accident years ago, and his sense of touch and grasp force is delivered from the prosthesis to neurostimulators implanted in his sensory nerves. As his muscle activity controls the motors in the prosthesis, sensors in the prosthesis stimulate his sensory nerves via wireless signals. It is hoped that the sensations will improve control of the prosthesis and promote independence, productivity, and quality of life. He has been using the NEPH system for approximately 4 months. 

"Jason has reported enhanced confidence in performing daily tasks," said Ranu Jung, Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering within the College of Engineering & Computing and a Wallace H. Coulter Eminent Scholars Chair in biomedical engineering. "I am so grateful to Jason for believing in our research and giving us the opportunity to work with him to test our technology. My hope is that this will enhance his life for the better."

"This research team established bold goals from the outset to build a prosthetic that restores a natural sense of touch and control following loss of a limb," said Jill Heemskerk, acting director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. "Dr. Jung and her team have integrated biology, electronics, and mechanics to provide a rich experience for a recipient of the neural-enabled prosthetic hand."

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