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Control algorithm give prosthetic arm users reliable sensory feedback. (Credit: L. Brian Stauffer)

Researchers have developed a control algorithm that regulates current so that a prosthetics user feels steady sensation, even when the electrodes begin to peel off or when sweat builds up.

The controller monitors the feedback the patient is experiencing and automatically adjusts the current level so that the user feels steady feedback, even when sweating or when the electrodes are 75 percent peeled off.

A patient performs various everyday tasks with a sensory control module integrated with his prosthetic arm. The researchers tested the controller on two patient volunteers. They performed a test where the electrodes were progressively peeled back and found that the control module reduced the electrical current so that the users reported steady feedback without shocks. They also had the patients perform a series of everyday tasks that could cause loss of sensation due to sweat.

The group is working on miniaturizing the module that provides the electrical feedback, so that it fits inside a prosthetic arm rather than attaching to the outside. They also plan to do more extensive patient testing with a larger group of participants.

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