Neuroprosthetic hands are typically heavy (over 400 g) and expensive (more than US$10,000), and lack the compliance and tactile feedback of human hands. Here, we report the design, fabrication and performance of a soft, low-cost and lightweight (292 g) neuroprosthetic hand that provides simultaneous myoelectric control and tactile feedback. The neuroprosthesis has six active degrees of freedom under pneumatic actuation, can be controlled through the input from four electromyography sensors that measure surface signals from residual forearm muscles, and integrates five elastomeric capacitive sensors on the fingertips to measure touch pressure so as to enable tactile feedback by eliciting electrical stimulation on the skin of the residual limb. In a set of standardized tests performed by two individuals with transradial amputations, we show that the soft neuroprosthetic hand outperforms a conventional rigid neuroprosthetic hand in speed and dexterity. We also show that one individual with a transradial amputation wearing the soft neuroprosthetic hand can regain primitive touch sensation and real-time closed-loop control.
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The main data supporting the results in this study are available within the paper and its Supplementary Information. Source data for Fig. 3a and Supplementary Figs. 23 and 26 are available as Supplementary Information. All data needed to evaluate the conclusions are presented in the paper and the Supplementary Information.
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We thank the participants for agreeing to participate in this research; M. Feng, Z. Shen, X. Huang and N. Ding for their participation in building the experimental set-ups; and Q. He for the discussions of the model and simulation. This study was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos 91948302, 52025057 and 51620105002), the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality (grant no. 20550712100), Shanghai Jiao Tong University Scientific and Technological Innovation Funds, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
G.G., N.Z., H.X., S.L., X. Zhu and X. Zhao are listed as co-inventors on a patent application (US application no. 63/039,929) that covers the design and fabrication of the soft neuroprosthetic hand.
Peer review information Nature Biomedical Engineering thanks the anonymous reviewers for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Supplementary methods, figures, tables and references, and captions for Supplementary Videos 1–14.
Simulation and experiments of the individual motion of five soft fingers.
Demonstration of independent control of 6 d.f. with one pump.
Demonstration of the durability of a soft finger.
Demonstration of fast wearing and training of a soft neuroprosthetic hand.
Evaluation of the soft neuroprosthetic hand with standardized tests.
Results of the standardized tests by the same participant wearing a rigid neuroprosthetic hand.
Demonstration of the compliant advantage of the soft neuroprosthetic hand.
Demonstration of the four electromyography-controlled grasp types.
Demonstration of versatile hand functions in daily activities of the individual.
Demonstration of handling objects with different shapes and sizes.
Demonstration of holding heavy payloads.
Demonstration of the touch sensation of an individual finger and multiple fingers.
Demonstration of closed-loop control.
Demonstration of graded tactile feedback.
Source data for Fig. 3a.
Source data for Supplementary Fig. 23.
Source data for Supplementary Fig. 26.
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Gu, G., Zhang, N., Xu, H. et al. A soft neuroprosthetic hand providing simultaneous myoelectric control and tactile feedback. Nat. Biomed. Eng 7, 589–598 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41551-021-00767-0
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