Tucumã scientists develop intelligent prostheses

Researchers from the Faculty of Exact Sciences and Technology at the National University of Tucumán (UNT) are studying prototypes of hand and leg prostheses that adapt to the users’ comfort. For this, they use a technique called biofeedback, which consists of sensors that monitor the position of the prosthesis and transmit this information to the body through small pressures on the stumps or heat bands that indicate the position of the leg, depending on the position. temperature.

Currently, despite the existence of sophisticated devices, patients often abandon them after a short time or use them for short periods because they are uncomfortable. “The hypothesis to be tested is that the use of these sensors in robotic prostheses will decrease the user’s rejection rate.“, account Lucas Acosta, member of the Research Laboratory in Applied Science and Technology (LINTEC) at UNT. The objective is to stimulate the perception of joint positions of the artificial leg through other sensory channels.

Along these lines, UNT professor and researcher, Fernando Farfandetails that there are numerous models of prostheses in the world, but it is impossible to compete in this technology with the most developed countries. “Therefore, the contribution of this research consists of transmitting information about the position of the prosthesis to the user with artificial sensors so that he can measure it and correct it according to his perception”, he highlights.

Although the Laboratory has a scanner and a 3D printer, the developers are not looking to mass produce prostheses, but make improved prototypes of legs and hands that take into account user sensations so that later any manufacturer can use this information.

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train the user

The intention is that the sensors provide information about the angular position of the joints and that people are trained to interpret this signal and pay attention to the position in which the leg or hand is found. “With the robotic leg we don’t have mental control to perform the movement. The common prosthesis only helps with movement, but ours will send a signal proportional to the position of the knee or ankle so that the person can feel it.”, points out Acosta.

It is currently not known or predictable how long a person wears a prosthesis. In this sense, Farfán details: “When we install the sensors, you will be able to see the adaptation of the person, what he feels when using it and only then can we take measures so that he does not abandon it”. That of the Tucuman specialists is an example of science with social impact, knowledge placed at the service of people’s needs.

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