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Prosthetic System Design Hinges on Memory of Movement to Manipulate the Device

According to a recent news release issued by Investigación y Desarrollo, a new prosthetic system design aims to pinpoint the memory of movement in an amputee’s brain in order to manipulate the prosthetic device. The technology may be possible thanks to the work of Mexican scientists at the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV), who the release notes work in the development of an arm replacement to identify movement patterns from brain signals.

Robert Muñoz Guerro, researcher at the department of Electrical Engineering, project leader at CINVESTAV, explains that it is first “necessary to know if there is a memory pattern to remember in the amputee’s brain in order to know how it moved and, thus, translating it to instructions for the prosthesis.”

The electrical signal, Muñoz Guerro says, will not come from the muscles that form the stump, but rather the movement patterns of the brain.

“If this phase is successful, the patient would be able to move the prosthesis by imagining different movements,” he adds.

Yet, Muñoz Guerro acknowledges in the release that this is not an easy task, as the brain registers a wide variety of activities that occur in the human body, and from all of them, the movement pattern is tried to be drawn. As a result, the first step, he notes, is to recall the patterns in the EEG and define the memory that can be electrically recorded. Researchers then need to evaluate how sensitive the signal is to other external shocks, such as light or blinking, Muñoz Guerro states in the release.

The release goes on to report that the prosthesis could only be used by individuals who once had their entire arm before it was amputated as a result of accident or illness. Patients were able to move the arm naturally and stored in their memory the process that would apply for the use of the prosthesis.

Muñoz Guerro emphasizes that the prosthesis must be provided with a mechanical and electronic system, the elements necessary to activate it and a section that would interpret the brain signals.

“Regarding the material with which it must be built, it has not yet been fully defined because it must weigh between two and three kilograms, which is similar to the missing arm’s weight,” Muñoz Guerro notes in the release.

[Source: Investigación y Desarrollo]