Objective: Recording of neural signals from intact peripheral nerves in patients with spinal cord injury or stroke survivors offers the possibility for the development of closed-loop sensorimotor prostheses. Nerve cuffs have been found to provide stable recordings from peripheral nerves for prolonged periods of time. However, questions remain over the design and positioning of nerve cuffs such that the separability of neural data recorded from the peripheral nerves is improved.
Approach: Afferent electroneurographic (ENG) signals were recorded with nerve cuffs placed on the sciatic nerve of rats in response to various mechanical stimuli to the hindpaw. The mean absolute value of the signal was extracted and input to a classifier. The performance of the classifier was evaluated under two conditions: (1) when information from either a 3- or 16-channel cuff was used; (2) when information was available from a cuff placed either distally or proximally along the nerve.
Main results: We show that both 3- and 16-channel cuffs were able to separate afferent ENG signals with an accuracy greater than chance. The highest classification scores were achieved when the classifier was fed with information obtained from a 16-channel cuff placed distally. While the 16-channel cuff always outperformed the 3-channel cuff, the difference in performance was increased when the 16-channel cuff was placed distally rather than proximally on the nerve.
Significance: The results indicate that increasing the complexity of a nerve cuff may only be advantageous if the nerve cuff is to be implanted distally, where the nerve has begun to divide into individual fascicles.