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Towards a Somatosensory Neuroprosthesis: Characterizing Microstimulation of the DRG and Spinal Cord for Sensory Restoration

Nanivadekar, Ameya C (2021) Towards a Somatosensory Neuroprosthesis: Characterizing Microstimulation of the DRG and Spinal Cord for Sensory Restoration. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Restoring sensation is key to making prostheses more functional. While there have been important advances in the design and actuation of prosthetic limbs, these devices lack a means for providing direct sensory feedback. As such, users must infer information about limb state from cues like pressure on the residual limb, resulting in diminished control of prostheses, and reduced adoption and use of these technologies.
The dorsal root ganglia (DRG) are an attractive target for a somatosensory neural interface. The DRG are enlargements of the spinal nerve that house the cell bodies of primary sensory neurons and provide access to a heterogenous population of somatosensory fibers. Importantly, the separation of motor and sensory pathways at the spinal roots allows recruitment of sensory afferents without coactivating motor efferents which may otherwise contaminate a myoelectric control interface.
This dissertation examines a novel way of interfacing with the DRG and dorsal roots using epineural electrodes, that takes us a step closer towards developing a somatosensory neuroprosthesis. I begin with an animal model to compare the recruitment properties of epineural and penetrating electrodes when stimulating afferents in the lumbar DRG. In the next section, I develop a computational model to explain the mechanism of recruitment of afferents. Finally, I describe a series of experiments in human upper-limb amputees to characterize the modality and utility of sensations evoked when the cervical spinal cord and spinal roots were stimulated.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Nanivadekar, Ameya Camn69@pitt.eduamn690000-0001-7889-9077
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFisher, Leelef44@pitt.edu0000-0002-9072-3119
Committee MemberKoerber,
Committee MemberKozai, Takashitdk18@pitt.edu0000-0002-2507-3295
Committee MemberLempka,
Committee MemberWeber, Douglasdougweber@cmu.edu0000-0002-9782-3497
Date: 26 January 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 August 2020
Approval Date: 26 January 2021
Submission Date: 16 November 2020
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 185
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Bioengineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: dorsal root ganglion, epineural electrodes, computational modeling, spinal cord stimulation, somatosensory feedback, amputation, neuroprosthesis
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2021 21:44
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2023 17:33


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