Today worldwide there is a serious shortage of affordable functional extremity prostheses with long life time. Modern technologies allowed scientist from different countries to redefine the problem of creating prostheses of a new type.
The project of a student of the Department of Digital Technologies of the Faculty of Computer Sciences of Voronezh State University Konstantin Fisenko under supervision of the Head of the Laboratory of Information Technology in Medicine, PhD in Medical Sciences, Associate Professor Yaroslav Turovsky became the winner of the programme UMNIK of the Fund for Promotion of Small Businesses in Scientific and Technical Field.
'Our development is aimed at creating a myoelectric prosthesis with tactile and temperature feedback information system. Such prosthesis will have tactile and temperature sensors that will make the disabled people feel the things they touch. It is not a new approach. It was implemented in the USSR in 1960-70s in the form of vibrating devices installed on the residual limb. However, the developing electronic and IT technologies make it possible to improve the invention by extending variety and accuracy of data transfer from the prosthesis onto the user's skin. The existing myoelectric prostheses are very expensive. Our project is based on a very popular idea - prostheses created with the help of 3D printing technology. Using a 3D printer we printed out a hand, and now we are going to integrate our system into it. The system is being developed as a separate module that extends functionality of the prosthesis. The module can be autonomous or partly integrated into the artificial limb. The obvious advantages of our project are considerably low price and feedback availability,' said Konstantin Fisenko.
The idea of the project was started up at the Department of Digital Technologies of the Faculty of Computer Sciences of Voronezh State University headed by professor Sergei Kurgalin. The research on Human-Machine interface feedback was launched in 2010 and a lot of progress has been made since then. A laboratory machine that enables comprehensive sensors testing has been created and a device prototype is being prepared. The model of the myoprosthesis has been used during student laboratory works and as a museum exhibit for over seven years.
The head researcher of the project Yaroslav Turovsky talked about the projects' possibilities, advantages of the device and problems of its mass production:
'One of the trends for Human-Machine interfaces is so called full substitution which means that a lost part of the body or an organ should have a technical analogue that can fully restore the lost function. Now there are no appropriate technologies allowing to restore sensitivity with acceptable accuracy. Our project has a lot of possibilities – we will have as a result an affordable and cheap feedback module for myoelectric prostheses that has no equivalents anywhere in the world. Such developments are of interest for scientist from all over the world. Unfortunately, today in Russia there is no effective demand for such products and there is no commercialized production of such prostheses. Obviously, the disabled should not be left to cope with their problems on their own and the state should provide financial help. The project is interesting both in the scientific and the commercial aspect – as it contributes to creating augmented reality systems. However, such projects require considerable support from the regional administration and the country as a whole.'