Rehabilitation and Neural Engineering Laboratory

Peripheral Interfaces for Lower-Limb Prosthetics

Sensory Restoration

Recent advances in design and actuation have led to important improvements in prosthetic limbs. However, these devices lack a means for providing direct sensory feedback, requiring users to infer information about limb state from pressure on the residual limb. For individuals with lower-limb amputation, lack of sensation limits ability to control the prosthesis and leads to slow gait and increased risk of falling. There is also evidence that lack of sensory feedback contributes to phantom limb pain, and that electrical stimulation at the dorsal root ganglia can reduce that pain. Our lab is working to develop solutions to improve control of lower-limb prostheses and to reduce phantom limb pain by providing sensory feedback that appears to emenate from the amputated limb. The goal of this research is to generate sensations of touch, pressure, and limb movement, and to pair those sensations with signals measured from the prosthetic limb. By providing this restored sensation, we aim to improve balance control and confidence, and to reduce phantom limb pain.