For people with amputation who survive with prosthetic limbs, one of the most problematic aspects of life is to control the prosthesis and to make it move similar to the way a natural limb would. Generally, prosthetic limbs are controlled through electromyography. The technique works by recording electrical activity from the muscles; however, this approach is only working towards controlling the prosthesis.
Recently, a research team developed an alternative approach to electromyography, and the study suggests that it could provide much more precise control of prosthetic limbs. The team embedded small magnetic beads within muscle tissue into the amputated residuum. In this manner, the length of a muscle can be precisely measured, and the feedback can then be transported to an ionic prosthesis within only milliseconds. The new technique would help advance the Prosthetics and Exoskeletons Market greatly as it would help control the prosthetic limbs much better than was available before, thus, helping people improve their quality of life ad way of living.
The researchers developed a new strategy known as MM (Magnetomicrometry) and further demonstrated that it would help provide fast and precise muscle measurements in animals. The goal of the research project, as per the team, was to develop a technique that would replace electromyography as the dominant way for liking bionic limbs with the peripheral nervous system. Furthermore, the team stated that they hold to achieve this due to the high signal quality provided by MM and the fact that the technique is barely invasive and has low regulatory hurdle and cost.
MM could have applications in improving muscle control achieved with the help of a technique called functional electrical stimulation. It is usually used to help restore mobility in patients suffering from spinal cord injuries.
Another application for it could be for providing magnetic control for guiding robotic exoskeletons, which can be attached to an ankle or some other joint for people who have encountered a stroke or developed some muscle weakness. Essentially the magnets and the exoskeletons would act as an artificial muscle that would increase the output of biological muscles inside the stroke-impaired limb akin to power steering that’s used in automobiles. One of the important advantages of the new MM approach is that it is minimally invasive, which means that once it is inserted inside the muscle, the beads would remain in place for a lifetime without the need to be replaced.
In the coming years, researchers would eventually take on human patients to do a study of their technique with those who have amputations below the knee. They suggest that once their approach is properly developed, it could even be used to control prosthetic limbs by placing it over the clothing, or attached to the surface of the skin, or maybe even affixed outside of a prosthetics.
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