On the viability of implantable electrodes for the natural control of artificial limbs: review and discussion

Biomed Eng Online. 2012 Jun 20;11:33. doi: 10.1186/1475-925X-11-33.


The control of robotic prostheses based on pattern recognition algorithms is a widely studied subject that has shown promising results in acute experiments. The long-term implementation of this technology, however, has not yet been achieved due to practical issues that can be mainly attributed to the use of surface electrodes and their highly environmental dependency. This paper describes several implantable electrodes and discusses them as a solution for the natural control of artificial limbs. In this context "natural" is defined as producing control over limb movement analogous to that of an intact physiological system. This includes coordinated and simultaneous movements of different degrees of freedom. It also implies that the input signals must come from nerves or muscles that were originally meant to produce the intended movement and that feedback is perceived as originating in the missing limb without requiring burdensome levels of concentration. After scrutinizing different electrode designs and their clinical implementation, we concluded that the epimysial and cuff electrodes are currently promising candidates to achieving a long-term stable and natural control of robotic prosthetics, provided that communication from the electrodes to the outside of the body is guaranteed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Electrodes, Implanted*
  • Humans
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena