Neural connector provides grasp control for the disabled

Innovative technologies can be applied to give great help to the disabled. For example, advances in micro-technologies can be used to develop neural control of grasp.

The GRIP project has developed an implantable neural connector capable of directly stimulating the surface of the human nerve, thereby causing a functional contraction of the relative muscles used to restore some hand functions. The connector communicates with an external control unit by means of a telemetry subsystem. This controller is a neuro-fuzzy system which modifies in a closed loop way the stimulation parameters according to the information recorded from the sensors incorporated in a glove worn by the disabled.

GRIP project developments build on an earlier project whose main result was the development of an innovative micro-fabricated interface for neural recording and stimulation. GRIP wishes to disseminate the project results among associations of disabled people and non-profit groups. This should stimulate demand and thus expand take-up in the market.

A macro-model of the GRIP demonstrator is in action on the stand. It is an anatomical model of the upper limb with a plastic tube simulating the implanted GRIP neural connector (the cuff type) being put around a wire simulating a nerve. The wire is a set of optic fibres inserted in a polymer tube with one end connected to an LED whose light spreads along the optics fibres. The idea is to simulate the neural signals along the nervous fibres. Altering the load on a glove, which is on the model's hand, changes the LED lighting frequency.

Contact Fabrizio VECCHI, Scuola Superiore Sant' Anna
tel +39 50 888 3405
fax +39 50 883 402
email fabrizio@shamash.sssup.it

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