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Extra‑neural signals from severed nerves enable intrinsic hand movements in transhumeral amputations

By Kirstin Ahmed

Robotic prostheses controlled by myoelectric signals can restore limited but important hand function in individuals with upper limb amputation. The lack of individual finger control highlights the yet insurmountable gap to fully replacing a biological hand. Implanted electrodes around severed nerves have been used to elicit sensations perceived as arising from the missing limb, but using such extra-neural electrodes to record motor signals that allow for the decoding of phantom movements has remained elusive. Here, we showed the feasibility of using signals from non-penetrating neural electrodes to decode intrinsic hand and finger movements in individuals with above-elbow amputations. We found that information recorded with extra-neural electrodes alone was enough to decode phantom hand and individual finger movements, and as expected, the addition of myoelectric signals reduced classification errors both in offline and in real-time decoding.