Clinically Significant Gains in Skillful Grasp Coordination by an Individual With Tetraplegia Using an Implanted Brain-Computer Interface With Forearm Transcutaneous Muscle Stimulation
Arch Phys Med Rehabil
© 2019 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine Objective: To demonstrate naturalistic motor control speed, coordinated grasp, and carryover from trained to novel objects by an individual with tetraplegia using a brain-computer interface (BCI)-controlled neuroprosthetic. Design: Phase I trial for an intracortical BCI integrated with forearm functional electrical stimulation (FES). Data reported span postimplant days 137 to 1478. Setting: Tertiary care outpatient rehabilitation center. Participant: A 27-year-old man with C5 class A (on the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale) traumatic spinal cord injury Interventions: After array implantation in his left (dominant) motor cortex, the participant trained with BCI-FES to control dynamic, coordinated forearm, wrist, and hand movements. Main Outcome Measures: Performance on standardized tests of arm motor ability (Graded Redefined Assessment of Strength, Sensibility, and Prehension [GRASSP], Action Research Arm Test [ARAT], Grasp and Release Test [GRT], Box and Block Test), grip myometry, and functional activity measures (Capabilities of Upper Extremity Test [CUE-T], Quadriplegia Index of Function-Short Form [QIF-SF], Spinal Cord Independence Measure–Self-Report [SCIM-SR]) with and without the BCI-FES. Results: With BCI-FES, scores improved from baseline on the following: Grip force (2.9 kg); ARAT cup, cylinders, ball, bar, and blocks; GRT can, fork, peg, weight, and tape; GRASSP strength and prehension (unscrewing lids, pouring from a bottle, transferring pegs); and CUE-T wrist and hand skills. QIF-SF and SCIM-SR eating, grooming, and toileting activities were expected to improve with home use of BCI-FES. Pincer grips and mobility were unaffected. BCI-FES grip skills enabled the participant to play an adapted “Battleship” game and manipulate household objects. Conclusions: Using BCI-FES, the participant performed skillful and coordinated grasps and made clinically significant gains in tests of upper limb function. Practice generalized from training objects to household items and leisure activities. Motor ability improved for palmar, lateral, and tip-to-tip grips. The expects eventual home use to confer greater independence for activities of daily living, consistent with observed neurologic level gains from C5-6 to C7-T1. This marks a critical translational step toward clinical viability for BCI neuroprosthetics.
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School of Medicine