Neural Interfacing Architecture Enables Enhanced Motor Control and Residual Limb Functionality Post Amputation

Srinivasan SS, Gutierrez-Arango S, Teng AC, Israel E, Song H, Bailey ZK, Carty MJ, Freed LE, Herr HM. Neural interfacing architecture enables enhanced motor control and residual limb functionality postamputation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Mar 2;118(9):e2019555118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2019555118


Despite advancements in prosthetic technologies, patients with amputation today suffer great diminution in mobility and quality of life. We have developed a modified below-knee amputation (BKA) procedure that incorporates agonist–antagonist myoneural interfaces (AMIs), which surgically preserve and couple agonist–antagonist muscle pairs for the subtalar and ankle joints. AMIs are designed to restore physiological neuromuscular dynamics, enable bidirectional neural signaling, and offer greater neuroprosthetic controllability compared to traditional amputation techniques. In this prospective, nonrandomized, unmasked study design, 15 subjects with AMI below-knee amputation (AB) were matched with 7 subjects who underwent a traditional below-knee amputation (TB). AB subjects demonstrated significantly greater control of their residual limb musculature, production of more differentiable efferent control signals, and greater precision of movement compared to TB subjects (P < 0.008). This may be due to the presence of greater proprioceptive inputs facilitated by the significantly higher fascicle strains resulting from coordinated muscle excursion in AB subjects (P < 0.05). AB subjects reported significantly greater phantom range of motion postamputation (AB: 12.47 ± 2.41, TB: 10.14 ± 1.45 degrees) when compared to TB subjects (P < 0.05). Furthermore, AB subjects also reported less pain (12.25 ± 5.37) than TB subjects (17.29 ± 10.22) and a significant reduction when compared to their preoperative baseline (P < 0.05). Compared with traditional amputation, the construction of AMIs during amputation confers the benefits of enhanced physiological neuromuscular dynamics, proprioception, and phantom limb perception. Subjects’ activation of the AMIs produces more differentiable electromyography (EMG) for myoelectric prosthesis control and demonstrates more positive clinical outcomes.

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