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Doug Weber: DARPA Develops ‘Next-Gen’ Prosthetic Device for Amputees

DARPAThe Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is developing a prosthetic device with interface systems for amputees to feel natural sensations when manipulating artificial limbs.

DARPA will design the prostheses to interpret motor signals from the human peripheral system and provide tactile and proprioceptive feedback to amputated users, DARPA said Thursday.

Doug Weber, manager of the Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces program, said the HAPTIX device will work to connect with the human nervous system to help users control the prosthetic device with neural signals similar to those of intact limbs.

“Research performed under DARPA’s RE-NET program and elsewhere showed that these nerves maintain motor and sensory fibers that previously innervated the amputated limb, and that these fibers remain functional for decades after limb loss,” added Weber.

The agency will use the prosthetic systems from DARPA’s recent Revolutionizing Prosthetics and Reliable Neural-Interface Technology programs to deliver tactile and proprioceptive sensors through the amputee’s peripheral nerves.

DARPA also plans to add psychologists to the development team in order to study how the HAPTIX system could provide psychological benefits to users and mitigate the phantom limb pain.

The complete prosthetic device is slated for a 12-month take-home trial and DARPA will work to gather data and develop a modular neural-interface microsystems.

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