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J Rehabil Res Dev. 1996 Apr;33(2):111-22.

Challenges to clinical deployment of upper limb neuroprostheses.

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Department of Orthopaedics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA.


The technology for functional neuromuscular stimulation (FNS) as a means of providing upper limb function to people with tetraplegia has been under development by three clinical research groups for almost two decades. This paper presents the current status of the clinical trials of three FNS systems: a noninvasive system built into a cosmetic forearm splint, a 30-channel percutaneous system, and an 8-channel implantable system. The complexity of FNS systems and the unique characteristics of the individuals to whom they are applied combine to create many clinical and technical challenges that must be addressed before the devices can be deployed. The emerging challenges to widespread clinical introduction of FNS systems for hand and arm function are identified and analyzed. In addition to the demands of designed and conducting the clinical trials to satisfy regulatory requirements, the lack of knowledge, skepticism, and the complacency on the part of potential FNS recipients, as well as of rehabilitation professionals, must be overcome through education and careful consideration of economic and societal factors in the design of clinical systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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