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New research: thought-controlled movement of bionic limbs

Professor Max Ortiz Catalán joined the Bionics Institute in June this year to lead research into ground-breaking bionic limb technologies as Head of Neural Prosthetics Research.

A world leader in this field, Professor Ortiz Catalán has developed bionic limb technology that integrates with the remaining bone, nerves and muscles of a patient’s residual limb and enables thought-controlled movement similar to a biological limb.

Founder and Director of the Center for Bionics and Pain Research (CBPR) in Sweden, Professor Ortiz Catalán is also a full Professor of Bionics at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Bionics Institute and CBPR are now working closely together on the mission to develop and clinically implement technologies to eliminate disability and pain due to sensorimotor impairment.

Improving quality of life for people living with limb amputation

In 2017, more than 58 million people were living with limb amputation worldwide.

Conventional approaches to attaching prosthetics to the human body result in artificial limbs that can cause pain and discomfort and are difficult to control.

New research at the Bionics Institute

The Neural Prosthetics Research Program is focused on creating bionic limbs that are highly integrated with the human body, restoring the functionality of a limb lost through amputation or congenital limb malformation.

Surgical and engineering techniques are being used to connect an individual’s prosthesis with their nervous system, resulting in bionic limbs with more reliability and dexterity than current options.

The electronic control system of the prosthesis is then connected to the patient’s nerves and muscles, creating a neuromusculoskeletal human-machine interface.

This interface supports brain signals to travel through the nerves and muscles safely and reliably to the bionic limb, giving the patient movement control and sensory awareness.

New surgical procedures, neural interfaces and artificial intelligence algorithms are currently being used to further increase dexterity and the richness of sensory feedback.

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