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Targeted muscle reinnervation enables your brain to control prosthetic limbs

Darren Murph
11.13.07
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If you're suddenly overcome with an eerie feeling of déjà vu, fret not, as this idea has certainly been brainstormed before. As scientists aim to make prosthetic limbs more user-friendly, a certain physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and professor at Northwestern University has developed a technique that enables artificial arms to react directly to the brain's thoughts. The process, dubbed targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR), works by rewiring residual nerves that once carried information to the now-lost appendage to the chest; when the person thinks to move their arm, the chest muscle contracts, and with the help of an electromyogram (EMG), the signal is "directed to a microprocessor in the artificial arm which decodes the data and tells the arm what to do." Currently, "only" four movements are possible after the procedure, but studies are already in full swing to determine if TMR could be used to bless future patients with an even fuller of range of motion.

[Image courtesy of ScienceDaily]

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