Researchers from ETH Zurich, in collaboration with the University of Belgrade, and a Lausanne-based start-up venture called Sen-sArs have a designed an interface to connect leg prosthesis to the residual nerves from the user’s thing. The hope that this will further help in providing a sensory feedback.
Researchers from ETH Zurich with the support of the University of Belgrade examined the neurofeedback system with the help of two volunteer participants who suffered an above-knee leg amputation and consequently, were using leg prosthesis. The study, a three-month effort, was published in the Journal of Nature Medicine, revealed the system worked to the advantage of the amputees in a number of ways. For example, high-tech prosthesis were utilized in order to provide the nervous system with sensory information. Additionally, tactile sensors were incorporated into the solution—used to the sole of the prosthetic foot which further helped in collecting data on knee movement, provided by the prosthesis’ electric knee joint as reported in Xaralite.
The researchers set up tiny electrodes in every participant’s thigh and connected them further to residual leg nerves. Study team members designed and developed software to translate the information generated from tactile and motion sensors to impulses or current, or the language of the nervous system ultimately delivered to the residual nerve. The signals from the residual nerves are thereafter transferred to the participant’s brain which is able to sense prosthesis and even help adjust gait to that preference. The machine and body are finally connected thanks to this advanced effort.
Startup Sen-sArs using the ETH Zurich technology
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, Sens-sArs is developing solutions for the almost 5 million amputees in America and Europe alone. Via their product Sensy, their mission is to re-enable upper, lower-limb amputees and nerve-damaged persons by 1) restoring their complete sensory-motor functionality 2) diminishing phantom limb pain and 3) enabling amputees to feel the artificial limb as part of their own body. Lead investigator Stanisa Raspopovic is also the co-founder
Call to Action: Professor Raspopovic is on to something very intriguing and a significant potential market. Interested in this research or his start up venture? See the link to his contact details at ETH Zurich.