Objective. Grasping and manipulation control critically depends on tactile feedback. Without this feedback, the ability for fine control of a prosthesis is limited in upper limb amputees. Early studies have shown that non-invasive electro-cutaneous stimulation (ES) can induce referred sensations that are spread to a wider and/or more distant area, with respect to the electrodes. Building on this, we sought to exploit this effect to provide somatotopically matched sensory feedback to people with partial hand (digital) amputations. Approach. For the first time, this work investigated the possibility of inducing referred sensations in the digits by activating the palmar nerves. Specifically, we electrically stimulated 18 sites on the palm of non-amputees to evaluate the effects of sites and stimulation parameters on modality, magnitude, and location of the evoked sensations. We performed similar tests with partial hand amputees by testing those sites that had most consistently elicited referred sensations in non-amputees. Main results. We demonstrated referred sensations in non-amputees from all stimulation sites in one form or another. Specifically, the stimulation of 16 of the 18 sites gave rise to reliable referred sensations. Amputees experienced referred sensations to unimpaired digits, just like non-amputees, but we were unable to evoke referred sensations in their missing digits: none of them reported sensations that extended beyond the tip of the stump. Significance. The possibility of eliciting referred sensations on the digits may be exploited in haptic systems for providing touch sensations without obstructing the fingertips or their movements. The study also suggests that the phenomenon of referred sensations through ES may not be exploited for partial hand prostheses, and it invites researchers to explore alternative approaches. Finally, the results seem to confirm previous studies suggesting that the stumps in partial hand amputees partially acquire the role of the missing fingertips, physiologically and cognitively.
|Titolo:||Electro-cutaneous stimulation on the palm elicits referred sensations on intact but not on amputated digits|
D'ALONZO, Marco (Corresponding)
|Data di pubblicazione:||2017|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo su Rivista/Article|