Ultra-precise, mind-controlled prosthetic hand for amputees via RPNI neural interface

“It’s like you have a hand again”: A new study from the University of Michigan gives amputees natural, finger-level control of a robotic hand: https://spotlight.engin.umich.edu/mind-control-prosthesis/

In this major advance for mind-controlled prosthetics, U-M research led by Paul Cederna and Cindy Chestek demonstrates an ultra-precise prosthetic interface technology that taps faint latent signals from nerves in the arm and amplifies them to enable real-time, intuitive, finger-level control of a robotic hand.

For in-depth coverage of the research:

U-M’s approach to neuroprosthetics centers on the Regenerative Peripheral Nerve Interface (RPNI)—a small graft of muscle tissue surgically attached to the end of a severed nerve in an amputee’s arm.

While other neural interfaces are harmful to nerves, the RPNI promotes healthy nerve growth and acts as a bioamplifier, converting faint neural signals sent from the brain into large, recordable muscle signals that remain stable for years. Combined with machine learning algorithms, these signals enable intuitive, real-time mind control of advanced robotic prosthetic hands.

The research is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine and is titled, “A regenerative peripheral nerve interface allows real-time control of an artificial hand in upper limb amputees.”

See it covered in:
Wired: https://www.wired.com/story/a-deft-robotic-hand/
MIT Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615311/implant-machine-learning-amputees-control-prosthetic-hands-ai/
Stat News: https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/04/surgery-ai-give-amputees-more-precise-control-of-prosthetic-hand/

Paul Cederna is the Robert Oneal Collegiate Professor of Plastic Surgery and a professor of biomedical engineering.

Paul Cederna

Cindy Chestek is an associate professor of biomedical engineering and part of U-M’s Robotics Institute.

Cortical Neural Prosthetics Lab

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Comment (33)

  1. Is this Lab only or is it useable in real world? If real world, is it about to be released as a real prosthetic? How much might it cost? These articles always report something and then it fades away.

  2. It's so cool that this technology is finally making tangible progress. Once this matures and develops in scope, the lives of millions of amputees will improve immeasurably and we may even have people voluntarily "upgrading" their natural limbs for more agile, faster, stronger robotic limbs.

    Not only that but the technology could be adapted so that a person could remotely control a robot, say in a dangerous environment or space. A person sitting in a control room in London could plugin and control a full sized robot in the reactor at Chernobyl or in a mine field in Afghanistan. We end up fighting wars using these things as proxy's.

    It's like the past 50 years of sci fi stories are finally coming true.

  3. I'm confused, the video makes me wonder if he is just selecting among options to do a pre-made motor action, is he? I.e. pinch, grab, point. It would be more thrilling/convincing to see the hand do 25 different thingies in front of the camera (not with an object in the hand, just the hand itself doing abstract things instead of neat-n-tidy grasp/point/etc lol).

  4. Working with the American College of Surgeons; couldn't you bioengineers get together and agree on a common or universal prosthetic plug (male) that amplifies the micro muscular signals after the elbow. This prosthetic plug could then fit a variety of different prosthetic hands (female, snap-on, quick change) as they are improved and developed through the decades. Just dreaming.You are all doing wonderful work I appreciate your thoughtfulness in making the world a better place

  5. How prosthetics connect to brain? What the sensor in the prosthetics is sensing – does it go to brain via the peripheral nerves that are still good in the healthy part of the limb or bypass that and directly send signal to brain? Thanks. Amazing achievement.

  6. In my lifetime I've seen prosthetic limbs from grabber hooks and unmovable rubber hands to this. Who knows what other life improving tech I'll see before I'm gone.


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