Enhancing Upper Limb Prostheses Through Neuromorphic Sensory Feedback
Osborn, Luke E
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Upper limb prostheses are rapidly improving in terms of both control and sensory feedback, giving rise to lifelike robotic devices that aim to restore function to amputees. Recent progress in forward control has enabled prosthesis users to make complicated grip patterns with a prosthetic hand and nerve stimulation has enabled sensations of touch in the missing hand of an amputee. A brief overview of the motivation behind the work in this thesis is given in Chapter 1, which is followed by a general overview of the field and state of the art research (Chapter 2). Chapters 3 and 4 look at the use of closed loop tactile feedback for improving prosthesis grasping functionality. This entails development of two algorithms for improving object manipulation (Chapter 3) and the first real-time implementation of neuromorphic tactile signals being used as feedback to a prosthesis controller for improved grasping (Chapter 4). The second half of the thesis (Chatpers 5 - 7) details how sensory information can be conveyed back to an amputee and how the tactile sensations can be utilized for creating a more lifelike prosthesis. Noninvasive electrical nerve stimulation was shown to provide sensations in multiple regions of the phantom hand of amputees both with and without targeted sensory reinnervation surgery (Chapter 5). A multilayered electronic dermis (e-dermis) was developed to mimic the behavior of receptors in the skin to provide, for the first time, sensations of both touch and pain back to an amputee and the prosthesis (Chapter 6). Finally, the first demonstration of sensory feedback as a key component of phantom hand movement for myoelectric pattern recognition shows that enhanced perceptions of the phantom hand can lead to improved prosthesis control (Chapter 7). This work provides the first demonstration of how amputees can perceive multiple tactile sensations through a neuromorphic stimulation paradigm. Furthermore, it describes the unique role that nerve stimulation and phantom hand activation play in the sensorimotor loop of upper limb amputees.