NIH GUIDE, Volume 24, Number 19, May 26, 1995




National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

The Neural Prosthesis Program of the National Institute of Neurological

Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), National Institutes of Health (NIH),

supports the development of aids for the neurologically handicapped.

These aids, known as neural prostheses, replace or supplement

neurological function by directly interfacing with the nervous system.

In patients with spinal cord injuries, sensation below the level of

injury is lost despite the fact that the tactile and proprioceptive

receptors and their associated afferent neurons are usually intact.  If

appropriate connections to these afferent neurons could be achieved,

they could be used as transducers for touch, force and position in

functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS) systems.  This sensory

information is needed for closed loop control of FNS and for restoring


In ongoing studies in Denmark, step lift-off information, obtained from

a chronically implanted electrode on the sural nerve, has been used to

control lifting of the foot during the swing phase in an individual

with stroke related foot-drop.  In another study, the feasibility of

obtaining contact/release information from the lateral surface of the

index finger has been demonstrated in a quadriplegic volunteer using a

cuff electrode placed on a digital nerve in the hand.  A contract was

initiated two years ago to investigate, in an animal model, the

feasibility of extracting signals for control and for sensory feedback

from electrical recordings in peripheral nerves using cuff electrodes.

This research has demonstrated stable physiological function, as

measured by conduction latency, of cuffed peripheral nerves in cats for

periods of six months.  The signals recorded from these cuff electrodes

reflect the mixture of cutaneous and proprioceptive receptors in skin

and muscle and typically show a rapidly-adapting response to contact

and a lesser rapidly-adapting response to release.  Nerve cuff

recordings can provide event related information such as time of

contact and release of objects.  They might also provide joint position

and contact force information, but more selective chronic recording

techniques may be more suitable.

This investigation will study the feasibility of obtaining sensory

information including force and position related signals from

peripheral nerves in animals on a chronic basis.  The proposed project

will develop, in an animal model, chronic recording methods for

extracting sensory information about human fingertip contact, grasped

object slip, finger position, and grasp force from chronic recordings

of the afferent activity of sensory receptors.  Performance of work

under this project will require personnel with established expertise in

sensory physiology and chronic electrical recording in peripheral

nerves.  It is anticipated that one award will made for a period of

three years.  Award is anticipated for January 1996.


This is not a Request for Proposals (RFP).  RFP NIH-NINDS-95-14 will be

issued on or about May 31, 1995, with responses due on or about July

31, 1995.  All responsible sources may submit a proposal that will be

considered by the agency.  To receive a copy of the RFP, submit a

written request along with two self-addressed mailing labels to:

Contracting Officer

Contracts Management Branch

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Federal Building, Room 901

7550 Wisconsin Avenue - MSC 9190

Bethesda, MD  20892



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