DALLAS- The body's relation to itself and to its surroundings is predicated in movement, in the body's trace of itself in time and gestures, and the specificity of its motion. Current research attempts to restore the injured body's relationship to its environment and equip amputees with a way to enable actions and sensations that would otherwise be lost to them forever.
Dallas-based Nerves Incorporated has been awarded an 18-month, multi-million dollar contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Phase 1 funding to further develop motor control and sensory feedback procedures that would enhance the functionality of prosthetic devices. Nerves Incorporated intends to use its knowledge and research in the body's nervous system to advance solutions for superior recovery from limb loss.
"We are delighted with the expression of confidence in our scientific expertise that DARPA has shown by awarding us this contract," says Nerves Incorporated Chief Executive Officer Edward Keefer. "It is a significant accomplishment for our new company, and if our research is successful, would be a significant milestone for the direct neural control of prosthetic limbs."
Phase 1 of DARPA’s Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program seeks to "deliver naturalistic sensations to amputees and, in the process, enable intuitive, dexterous control of advanced prosthetic devices that substitute for amputated limbs." The development of such technology would have broad application and could fuel future medical devices that
could greatly benefit a sizeable population, including injured military personnel.
"The ability to decipher intended movement directly from the neural signals of peripheral nerves is a tremendous technical challenge, especially if the devices we use have to function flawlessly for perhaps decades," says Keefer. "It is truly a type of mind-reading, in that we have to decode the neural signals that carry very precise information for the activation of specific muscles, which in the amputee’s case, are no longer even present."
Nerves Incorporated was founded in 2013, and its research is focused on the science, development and commercialization of peripheral nerve repair technologies. Its proposal is aimed at the design, development and implementation of an electrode interface at the peripheral nerve level using multiple fascicular targeted longitudinal intrafascicular electrodes (FastLIFE) to provide reliable, dexterous prosthetic control at any amputation level. Collaborating with Nerves Incorporated in this project are Advanced Arm Dynamics, one of the pre-eminent upper-limb prosthetics companies in the United States; Dr. Jonathan Cheng, a board-certified plastic surgeon and peripheral nerve specialist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who was instrumental in designing the interfacing strategy that Nerves Incorporated plans to implement; and Stephen Helms Tillery of Arizona State University, an expert in the intricacies of neural control of arm movement and the neural coding of tactile information..
For further information on Nerves Incorporated and its research, you may contact Maritza Hernández, Executive Manager, at 469-463-8058 or visit our website www.nervesincorporated.com.