Thursday, October 17, 2013

New Research on Neurological Signals to Control Lower-Limb Prostheses

Researchers from North Carolina State University, Raleigh, and the University of Houston, Texas, have joined forces on a new, four-year, $1.2 million collaborative project to use neurological signals to control lower-limb prostheses and create a prototype device. Their work is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

In recent years, researchers have developed powered prosthetic devices that use internal motors to improve the motion of the artificial limb. The goal of the NSF project is to improve the connection between the prosthesis and the person using it with sensors to pick up the neuromuscular control signals from residual muscles in the area where the prosthesis is connected to its user. The aim is to develop an algorithm that translates those neuromuscular signals into machine language that will control the powered prosthesis—making it easier for the user to move seamlessly from standing up, to walking across the room, to climbing the stairs.

The team also plans to build a prototype powered prosthesis that incorporates the new technology and will be exploring ways to use neurological signals from the brain to control prosthetic legs.

This is important for patients who have little or no residual muscle in the area of the missing limb because that lack of muscle makes it difficult to pick up neuromuscular signals. In those cases, signals picked up directly from the brain may be able to control the prosthesis.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mirror Therapy Introduced To Bosnia

Bosnian Health Professionals

Though the war in Bosnia ended more than twenty years ago, there are still many amputees left who experience debilitating phantom limb pain.

To address this wide-scale problem, five Mirror Therapy workshops were presented in Bosnia during September '13 by Moira Judith Mann, co-founder of End The Pain Project .

The workshops marked the beginning of certified health professionals training other health professionals in Bosnia, with the expectation that Mirror Therapy will eventually reach amputees suffering phantom limb pain throughout the Balkans.

Training with mirror
Two workshops were held at Hope87 headquarters in Sarajevo, arranged by Dr. Amira Karkin-Tais and Dr. Murid Muftic and coordinated by Zana Karkin and Ivana Vujasin of the NGO. Fifteen health professionals received ETPP certificates of completion, which enables them to teach the therapy to other health professionals.

In Banja Luka, two workshops were presented to sixteen staff members of the ZFMR Rehabilitation Hospital through the cooperation of Dr. Natasa Tomic, ZFMR's Medical Director.

Banja Luka amputee using mirror

A workshop presented directly to amputees suffering phantom limb pain was held at the Organization of Amputees UDAS in Banja Luka, organized by Nikola Zec. The results were astounding and included the unfurling of phantom fingers by an amputee who had been experiencing a phantom clenched fist for twenty years after a device exploded in his hand.

Jasmin Avdovic, Physiotherapist/Occupational therapy practitioner, introduced Mirror Therapy training as an idea for future to 260 fellow physiotherapist members of UFFBiH in October, at their 1st Annual Congress. Participants from Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia responded to it with great interest due to high number of people with amputation, especially in Bosnia. He and others mentioned in this post plan to spread the benefits of Mirror Therapy through pan-Balkan workshops.