A murine model of a novel surgical architecture for proprioceptive muscle feedback

T. R. Clites, M. J. Carty, S. Srinivasan, A. N. Zorzos, H. M. Herr, A murine model of a novel surgical architecture for proprioceptive muscle feedback and its potential application to control of advanced limb prostheses., J. Neural Eng. 14, aa614b (2017).


 Proprioceptive mechanisms play a critical role in both reflexive and volitional lower extremity control. Significant strides have been made in the development of bionic limbs that are capable of bi-directional communication with the peripheral nervous system, but none of these systems have been capable of providing physiologically-relevant muscle-based proprioceptive feedback through natural neural pathways. In this study, we present the agonist–antagonist myoneural interface (AMI), a surgical approach with the capacity to provide graded kinesthetic feedback from a prosthesis through mechanical activation of native mechanoreceptors within residual agonist–antagonist muscle pairs. Approach. (1) Sonomicrometery and electroneurography measurement systems were validated using a servo-based muscle tensioning system. (2) A heuristic controller was implemented to modulate functional electrical stimulation of an agonist muscle, using sonomicrometric measurements of stretch from a mechanically-coupled antagonist muscle as feedback. (3) One AMI was surgically constructed in the hindlimb of each rat. (4) The gastrocnemius-soleus complex of the rat was cycled through a series of ramp-and-hold stretches in two different muscle architectures: native (physiologically-intact) and AMI (modified). Integrated electroneurography from the tibial nerve was compared across the two architectures. Main results. Correlation between stretch and afferent signal demonstrated that the AMI is capable of provoking graded afferent signals in response to ramp-and-hold stretches, in a manner similar to the native muscle architecture. The response magnitude in the AMI was reduced when compared to the native architecture, likely due to lower stretch amplitudes. The closed-loop control system showed robustness at high stretch magnitudes, with some oscillation at low stretch magnitudes. Significance. These results indicate that the AMI has the potential to communicate meaningful kinesthetic feedback from a prosthetic limb by replicating the agonist–antagonist relationships that are fundamental to physiological proprioception.

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