Researchers Treat Amputees By Stimulating Nerves In FDA Trial

Published: Monday, April 3, 2017 - 5:00am
Updated: Monday, April 3, 2017 - 9:36am

(Photo courtesy of Ranu Jung, Florida International University)
A neural-enabled prosthetic hand system in action.

Hand amputees will be receiving treatment to restore nerve sensation in their hands, as part of a first-ever FDA approved clinical trial.

Called bioelectronic medicine, researchers are treating amputees by stimulating nerves to restore sensation in the human hand, to restore a sense of touch.

Project lead Ranu Jung from Florida International University started with amputees from the Iraq War.

“One of the things that the current prostheses allow them to do is to control the hand but the people do not have any sensation," Jung said. 

The technology stimulates nerves in the arm to provide sensation while using the prosthetic hand. And it’s the first-ever FDA approved system implanted inside the nerve system.

Jimmy Abbas from Arizona State University was brought in to provide expertise in electrostimulation.

“As they open and close their hand, does it provide them with information that tells them how much is their hand open, how much is it closed and this is very important for amputees. If they have that information, then they don’t have to be looking at their hand all the time,” Abbas said.

Researchers say once stimulation is successful inside the nerves, then down the road, treatment may be available to stimulate nerves in organs to help respiratory or liver disorders. Trials are being prepared now and are expected to begin in fall.

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