Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Restoration of Function

Biological, prosthetic and other technologies designed to provide function equivalent to function lost due to disease or injury

Showing 35 results for Restoration RSS
Despite recent advances in technology for upper-limb prostheses, artificial arms and hands are still unable to provide users with sensory feedback, such as the “feel” of things being touched or awareness of limb position and movement. Without this feedback, even the most advanced prosthetic limbs remain numb to users, a factor that impairs the limbs’ effectiveness and their wearers’ willingness to use them. In a step toward overcoming these challenges, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of its Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program.
A 28-year-old who has been paralyzed for more than a decade as a result of a spinal cord injury has become the first person to be able to “feel” physical sensations through a prosthetic hand directly connected to his brain, and even identify which mechanical finger is being gently touched.
Electrical arrays implanted in the memory centers of the brain are showing promise for their ability to help patients improve their scores on memory tests, raising hope that such approaches may someday help individuals suffering from memory deficits as a result of traumatic brain injury or other pathologies. The preliminary findings, from DARPA’s Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program, were presented in St. Louis on Thursday at “Wait, What? A Future Technology Forum,” hosted by the agency.
DARPA has selected seven teams of researchers to begin work on the Agency’s Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program, which has as its goal the development of a closed-loop system that treats diseases by modulating the activity of peripheral nerves. The teams will initially pursue a diverse array of research and technological breakthroughs in support of the program’s technical goals. Ultimately, the program envisions a complete system that can be tested in human clinical trials aimed at conditions such as chronic pain, inflammatory disease, post-traumatic stress and other illnesses that may not be responsive to traditional treatments.
A DARPA-funded research team has demonstrated for the first time in a human a technology that allows an individual to experience the sensation of touch directly in the brain through a neural interface system connected to a robotic arm. By enabling two-way communication between brain and machine—outgoing signals for movement and inbound signals for sensation—the technology could ultimately support new ways for people to engage with each other and with the world.