Advancing limb neural prostheses

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Science  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6514, pp. 290-291
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb1073


Although sophisticated upper- and lower-limb prostheses have been developed, amputees cannot control them intuitively nor perceive sensations from them. These deficiencies result in serious issues, including risk of falls, decreased mobility, heart fatigue during walking, and lower functionality while grasping. Moreover, the prostheses are not perceived by the users as part of their own body (low embodiment), which increases cognitive burden during use or device abandonment. An ideal man-machine interface should enable effortless bidirectional communication between the user and the prosthesis. Neural prostheses that provide bidirectional interfacing with the residual nervous system exploit the persistence of the central and peripheral neural pathways devoted to motor control and sensing (1). A combination of neurotechnologies recently achieved previously unseen capabilities of prosthesis actuation and sensory restoration, but several hurdles need to be overcome before widespread use of these devices.

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