Neuroprosthetics- A technological milestone

The ideal neuroprosthetic interface permits high-quality neural recording and stimulation of the nervous system while reliably providing clinical benefits over chronic periods. Although current technologies have made notable strides in this direction, significant improvements must be made to better achieve these design goals and satisfy clinical needs. This article provides an overview of the state of neuroprosthetic interfaces, starting with the design and placement of these interfaces before exploring the stimulation and recording platforms yielded from contemporary research. [Reference]

Implantable neurostimulation devices provide a direct therapeutic link to the nervous system and can be considered brain-computer interfaces (BCI). Under this definition, BCI are not simply science fiction, they are part of existing neurosurgical practice. Clinical BCIs are standard of care for some difficult-to treat neurological disorders. These systems target the central and peripheral nervous system and include Vagus Nerve Stimulation, Responsive Neurostimulation, and Deep Brain Stimulation.

Neuroprosthetics encompasses a variety of artificial devices or systems that can be used to enhance the motor, sensory, cognitive, visual, auditory, and communicative deficits that arise from acquired brain injuries. These include assistive technology, functional electrical stimulation, myoelectric prostheses, robotics, virtual reality gaming. Neuromodulation consists of extracranial stimulation devices such as transcranial direct current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation or implanted devices such as brain-computer interfaces and deep brain stimulators. 

Current neuroprosthetic technologies are developing rapidly, but some of them are invasive or discomforting for the user. Therefore, future prosthetic devices should be as intelligent but also as simple as possible. For this, new concepts for controlling the prosthetics are essentially needed, e.g. by inclusion of augmented reality (AR) into current intention detection methods (e.g., electromyography, electrooculography, or electroencephalography) as an add-on to the concept. Even more, stand-alone (non-contact) concepts of AR glasses controlling the prosthesis may help to simplify usability of modern prosthetics. [Reference]

The nervous system connects the individual to their environment, and its breakdown is often physically and emotionally devastating. This is far from a rare issue—in 2010 more than 20% of the United States population reported having some disability, with the majority related to motor impairments in the upper or lower body. Nearly 2 million people in the United States are amputees due to trauma or disease alone, with almost 200,000 people receiving amputations per year. The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association reports a prevalence of 30,000 ALS patients in the United States; the number of people living with other neuromuscular disorders is several orders of magnitude larger. [Reference]

In conclusion, neuroprosthetics is undoubtedly leaving its significant mark in the research world, there are no second thoughts about the potential of this technology and its impact that will benefit individuals with brain related disabilities or shortcomings.

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