Prosthetics with natural sensations for lower-limb amputees
An EU-funded project is building on the development of an upper-limb prosthesis controlled by the nervous system, which restores amputees' natural sensations and intuitive limb control. The aim is to create and market a similar solution for people who have lost lower limbs.
© primipil #217484693, 2019 source:stock.adobe.com
People with lower limb amputation suffer numerous health problems related to the lack of sensory feedback from prostheses. Using knowledge gathered during the earlier NEBIAS project, which developed a prosthesis controlled by the nervous system for upper-limb amputees, the EU-funded SENSAGAIN project targets those with lower-limb amputation.
The problems faced by lower-limb amputees include arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain resulting from asymmetrical gait, constant risk of falling, greater exertion due to unnatural movements leading to fatigue and occasionally heart failure, phantom limb pain and perception of the prosthesis as a foreign body and consequent abandonment.
SENSAGAIN worked with companies and potential users to identify the product features needed for successful commercialisation of prosthesis and built strategic partnerships with manufacturers to speed up the transition from research to market. A market penetration strategy has been defined, with clinical trials and certification also foreseen prior to roll-out.
The resulting device comprises implantable neural electrodes and a neurostimulator, an external controller and a sensorised sole all features patients consider to be necessary. It will give amputees a unique means of rehabilitation, prevent health issues caused by the absence of natural sensations, and boost confidence in and take-up of prostheses.
This will lead to dramatically improving the quality of life of amputees and generating savings in both the rehabilitation sectors and the European health and social insurance systems.
In addition, by sharing the results with the members of the NEBIAS consortium and related research groups, SENSAGAIN will foster the development of an entrepreneurial mindset in academia, promoting the orientation of research towards market needs.