With new technology, limb prosthetic device can feel | Far East, Technology & innovation MarchmontNews.com

Far East | Technology & innovation

With new technology, limb prosthetic device can “feel”

1 Dec '21
The resident of the Skolkovo Foundation (VEB.RF Group), Motorika, a company engaged in the development and production of hand prostheses, together with the FEFU medical center and the Skoltech Zelman Center for Neurobiology and Neurorehabilitation, performed the first surgery in Russia for the invasive implantation of electrodes into the peripheral a nerve to establish a sensitive feedback loop of hand prostheses with the human nervous system.

The aim of the project is to study the technology of sensing bionic prostheses, which allows to ensure maximum interaction with the human body, as well as to test the possibility of relieving phantom pain. Only a few international teams carried out such operations in the world.
Natalya Polushkina, Vice President, Executive Director of the Biological and Medical Technologies Cluster of the Skolkovo Foundation: “The research carried out by Motorika in collaboration with neurosurgeons and Skoltech scientists is aimed at controlling one of the most painful states - chronic phantom pain, and will also contribute to the return of normal tactile sensitivity, improve the functionality of the prosthetic limbs. In case of a successful experiment, further scaling up of the technology is possible, which will significantly improve the quality of life of people after amputation, and new perspectives will open up for Motorica in the development of invasive prostheses and other medical devices implanted in humans. The operation became possible thanks to the well-coordinated work of the Motorika team, scientists from Skoltech, FEFU specialists, as well as the support of the Skolkovo Foundation. ”
Patients arrived in Vladivostok to participate in the study. The first patient from the city of Lomonosov, whose both arms were amputated, hopes that with sensation he will be able to feel even fragile objects. Previously, he used bioelectric prostheses that allow him to perform simple actions, open doors or take a glass. And the second patient who flew in for the operation from Roslavl, who hopes to solve the problems caused by phantom pain with the help of the operation.

During surgery, special electrodes are installed on the nerves of patients to provide electrical stimulation. Over the course of two weeks, patients will learn to perform different tasks in new ways using bionic hand prostheses. In the postoperative period, specialists will study and work out the individual parameters of stimulating each patient to perceive tactile sensations: pressure, pain, heat and cold.
Ilya Chekh, General Director of Motorika: “This year our company is creating a new scientific and technical division that will develop invasive (implantable) technologies. We managed to gather the best specialists in the field of invasive electronics from all over Russia, as well as attract world-renowned researchers such as Mikhail Lebedev. First of all, we pay attention to the problems of the sensitivity of the prostheses, because it has great scientific and commercial potential. After completing the first phase of practical research, we will receive the data necessary to develop our own line of invasive electrodes and stimulators for use in prosthetics and other medical fields. Thus, we will be able to significantly expand the company's activities and bring Russia to a leading position in the field of invasive technologies.”

The operation will be performed by a neurosurgeon at the FEFU Medical Center, an expert at the NTI Center for Neurotechnologies of Virtual and Augmented Reality Artur Biktimirov: “Neuromodulation is a potential treatment option for chronic pain that can change maladaptive neuroplasticity and enhance descending inhibitory pathways. The use of feedback prostheses helps to reduce phantom pain. The mapping of phantom sensitivity in the future will allow us to program stimulation for certain parameters.”
FEFU has become a platform for conducting research with subsequent testing and control of patient adaptation. Mikhail Lebedev became the scientific supervisor of the project.
Mikhail Lebedev, Skoltech professor: “The key feature of this project is the use of an active paradigm of tactile interaction between the hand prosthesis and external objects. It is due to this paradigm that synchronization of the activity of the brain and artificial tactile sensations caused by stimulation of peripheral nerves is ensured. Moreover, the paradigm will be supplemented by a neurointerface that triggers movements by the activity of the motor cortex zones. By exercising with this bi-directional interface, patients will be able to eliminate phantom pain.”
If the operative phase of the study is successful, specialists will focus on further exploring the patient's invasive management of new prostheses.