Evolution of an implantable system for the control of the upper limb prosthesis with invasive neural interfaces, with wireless interfaces

The loss of a hand following a traumatic event can result in devastating damage, which changes a person's lifestyle forever. This drastic change has an impact not only on the workplace but also on the personal sphere, severely limiting the ability to carry out activities of daily life and to interact with people.

The incidence of upper limb amputations in the world, equal to about 4.000 new cases a year in Italy and about 340.000 new cases in the United States, has led to a flourishing scientific and technological development in the international panorama of neuroprosthetics, with particular attention to the theme of the recovery of sensory capacities and the closed-loop control of prostheses, thanks to the use of invasive neural interfaces.

In consideration of all this, in July 2016 the partnership between INAIL and theUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma was renewed with the signing of a new three-year agreement, expanding the collaboration begun in 2014. The intention is to follow up the three-year PPR2 program through a new project which aims to continue with scientific, technological and clinical advances on prosthetic systems for the upper limb, with particular reference to the development of advanced interfacing and control solutions for improving performance in daily life activities and for greater accessibility of these systems, also pursuing the objective of contributing to the development of devices as possible "made in Italy". The ultimate goal is to optimize a prosthetic system developed in the PPR2 project with the introduction of highly miniaturized, stable and biocompatible components, for a long-lasting implant which therefore allows the use of these technologies extensively in everyday life contexts . 

The project aims to develop a stand-alone neural interfacing prosthetic system composed of: (i) a completely implantable neural interfacing system equipped with wireless technology and (ii) a bidirectional embedded control of the prostheses that allows actively modulate the grip strength, starting from the tactile information elicited in the subject through neural stimulation.

The intent is that the project, benefiting from the experiences, results and technologies developed by UCBM and INAIL in the PPR2 project, moving towards stable and long-lasting systems, can produce results that can be concretely translated in the medium-long term in terms of devices and technologies available to patients.

Duration: 3 years
Beginning: May 2017