I will talk about the human-machine interface, and the issues pertaining to dexterity and manipulation. Because it is difficult to achieve the control necessary for true dexterous control we are exploring the use of Virally Transfected Optogenetics in the peripheral nerve as way to enable communication with the nervous system. We'll discuss where we are going and what the future of prosthetic limb systems will look like. We'll also talk about our experience building advanced mechatronic arm and hand replacements as well as the control interface to run them.
Richard F. ff. Weir, PhD, is Director of the VA/CU Biomechatronics Development Laboratory of VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System (ECHCS) – Denver VAMC and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He hold a Research Healthcare Scientist appointment at the VA, and Research Associate Professor appointments in the Departments of Bioengineering and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Dr. Weir received a BA in mathematics and a BAI in microelectronics and electrical engineering from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, in 1983. After working as a control engineer in England, he moved to the USA and obtained his MS and PhD degrees in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. After working at Northwestern University and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for many years Dr. Weir moved his laboratory to University of Colorado. His laboratory’s research is focused on the development of advanced prosthetic systems for individuals with limb loss. This research covers all aspects of the problem ranging from neural control and sensing, mechatronic design and development, novel actuator technologies, and clinical deployment of these systems. He and his team were extensively involved in the design and development of the prosthetic arm systems built under both DARPA Revolutionizing Prosthetics initiatives. He led the development of the implantable myoelectric sensor (IMES) system for use in the control of powered prosthetic systems. These IMES are currently undergoing first-in-human trials at Walter Reed Medical Center. Most recently, he and his team have been exploring novel ways of using optogenetics to non-invasively optically interface with the peripheral nervous system with the goal of neuromodulating the vagus nerve and providing enhanced prosthesis control and sensory feedback to users with limb loss.