A murine model of a novel surgical architecture for proprioceptive muscle feedback and its potential application to control of advanced limb prostheses

J Neural Eng. 2017 Jun;14(3):036002. doi: 10.1088/1741-2552/aa614b. Epub 2017 Feb 17.


Objective: Proprioceptive mechanisms play a critical role in both reflexive and volitional lower extremity control. Significant strides have been made in the development of bionic limbs that are capable of bi-directional communication with the peripheral nervous system, but none of these systems have been capable of providing physiologically-relevant muscle-based proprioceptive feedback through natural neural pathways. In this study, we present the agonist-antagonist myoneural interface (AMI), a surgical approach with the capacity to provide graded kinesthetic feedback from a prosthesis through mechanical activation of native mechanoreceptors within residual agonist-antagonist muscle pairs.

Approach: (1) Sonomicrometery and electroneurography measurement systems were validated using a servo-based muscle tensioning system. (2) A heuristic controller was implemented to modulate functional electrical stimulation of an agonist muscle, using sonomicrometric measurements of stretch from a mechanically-coupled antagonist muscle as feedback. (3) One AMI was surgically constructed in the hindlimb of each rat. (4) The gastrocnemius-soleus complex of the rat was cycled through a series of ramp-and-hold stretches in two different muscle architectures: native (physiologically-intact) and AMI (modified). Integrated electroneurography from the tibial nerve was compared across the two architectures.

Main results: Correlation between stretch and afferent signal demonstrated that the AMI is capable of provoking graded afferent signals in response to ramp-and-hold stretches, in a manner similar to the native muscle architecture. The response magnitude in the AMI was reduced when compared to the native architecture, likely due to lower stretch amplitudes. The closed-loop control system showed robustness at high stretch magnitudes, with some oscillation at low stretch magnitudes.

Significance: These results indicate that the AMI has the potential to communicate meaningful kinesthetic feedback from a prosthetic limb by replicating the agonist-antagonist relationships that are fundamental to physiological proprioception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Artificial Limbs*
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / physiology
  • Electromyography / methods*
  • Feedback, Sensory / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity