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Establishing a Connection Between the Human Peripheral Nervous System and an Upper Limb Mechanical Prosthesis

Vanesa Dodova, Tsvetelin Tsvetkov, Natasha Ivanova

Abstract

Introduction: In recent decades a variety of different methods have been developed in an attempt to connect mechanical prostheses to the human nervous system. This can be achieved through the implantation of electrodes either in the nerves of the peripheral nervous system or directly into the central nervous system. The established connection must be able to transfer afferent and efferent data with the same accuracy. The use of such technology in manufacturing mechanical prostheses will drastically increase the patients’ quality of life, since it allows them to use their prosthesis in a much more similar way to that of a natural limb. The aforementioned electrodes can be divided into two categories. The first ones are extraneural electrodes, which are implanted on the surface of the nerve, without compromising the integrity of the nerve fascia. The second ones are intraneural electrodes, which penetrate into the nerve’s fascia and connect to the nerve fibers directly. The latter provide a more fine-tuned stimulation due to their contact with individual nerve fibers as opposed to the nerve as a hole.

Materials and Methods: Different resources were used to gather enough information and draw a comparison between the types of electrodes used in establishing a connection between an upper limb mechanical prosthesis and the nerves of the human peripheral nervous system. The comparison is based on two core characteristics: effectiveness of stimulation and potential harmful effect on the nerve and its surrounding tissue. Central nervous system connections will not be included in this comparison.

Results: Considering the gathered information, the following results were achieved: the more effective the stimulation an electrode provides, the higher the risk of harming the nerve.

Conclusion: The development of this new technology can enormously change peoples’ lives for the better. However, a great amount of research and tests should be made in order to precise it.


Keywords

peripheral nervous system, upper limb mechanical prosthesis


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