Good news for people with prosthetic arms

Feb 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured, Health

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TMR (Targeted Muscle Reinnervation) is a method which helps amputees to use their prosthetic arms effectively to do their daily activities. This method was developed in the rehabilitation institute of Chicago and the Northwestern University. In Wikepedia (they describe TMR as a method by which a spare muscle (the target muscle) of an amputated patient is denervated (its original nerves cut and/or de-activated), then reinnervated with residual nerves of the amputated limb. The resultant EMG signals of the targeted muscle now represent the motor commands to the missing limb, and are used to drive a motorized prosthetic device.
Research done at the rehabilitation institute of Chicago reports that TMR gives the patients much better control over their prosthetic arms.

In simple terms what they do in TMR is that in a patient whose arm is amputated the residual parts of the  motor and the sensory nerves that went down the arm carrying the information that is needed to give motor commands and sensation are transferred ( the process of reinnervation)  to spare muscle and skin in the patient’s chest which are no longer attached to the amputated arm,  therefore when the patient thinks about  making a fist the muscle reinnervated with the motor nerves which used to do that in the hand will contract . The reinnervated muscle then provides a myoelectric signal to make a fist which acts as the control input for a motorized hand. With regards to the sensation, when you touch the chest in the area reinnervated the patient will feel her hand.

Dr. Kuiken who along with Dr.Gregory responsible for developing this method says that he’d like to see the technique be brought into wider use in other centers.”I think we’ve had successful enough results that we’re ready to say this is no longer experimental, and we can start doing this just for the clinical benefit to people, without big grants and studying it from top to toe. We want it to be tried in other places by other people so that patients get the advantage of it and we learn more.”  This may also mean that the way amputation surgeries are done will also be changed leaving nerves a bit longer than cutting them as short as possible

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