Free Design Audit Available - Click Here for Details

A prosthesis driven by the nervous system helps people with amputation walk naturally

A new surgical procedure gives people more neural feedback from their residual limb. With it, seven patients walked more naturally and navigated obstacles.

State-of-the-art prosthetic limbs can help people with amputations achieve a natural walking gait, but they don’t give the user full neural control over the limb. Instead, they rely on robotic sensors and controllers that move the limb using predefined gait algorithms.

Using a new type of surgical intervention and neuroprosthetic interface, MIT researchers, in collaboration with colleagues from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have shown that a natural walking gait is achievable using a prosthetic leg fully driven by the body’s own nervous system. The surgical amputation procedure reconnects muscles in the residual limb, which allows patients to receive “proprioceptive” feedback about where their prosthetic limb is in space.

In a study of seven patients who had this surgery, the MIT team found that they were able to walk faster, avoid obstacles, and climb stairs much more naturally than people with a traditional amputation.

Sign up for Blog Updates