A research team led by Paul Marasco, Ph.D., of Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, has won a $2.5 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The contract was awarded through DARPA's new Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) program, which aims to deliver naturalistic sensations to amputees and enable better control over their prosthetic limbs through direct connections to users' nervous systems.
Marasco's team intends to develop a suite of outcome metrics for advanced prosthetic limbs that are clinically relevant and rooted in cutting-edge science. These metrics could potentially change the way that prosthetic devices are currently evaluated. Jacqueline Hebert, M.D., FRCPC, of the University of Alberta, and Jon Sensinger, Ph.D., P.Eng, of the University of New Brunswick, are also key leaders of the research team.
Prosthetic limb technology has undergone significant advancements in recent years, but there is currently no standardized set of metrics to evaluate these technologies. This lack of information leaves insufficient evidence to guide research and medical decision-making and hinders the ability to communicate benefits to patients and demonstrate improved outcomes to insurance payers.
"With this research, we hope to provide avenues to make better evidence-based decisions about advanced prosthetic arms," said Dr. Marasco, of the Lerner Research Institute's Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. "These advances could help physicians make better clinical care decisions, justify to payers the need for advanced prosthetic devices, and ultimately improve the quality of life for persons with upper-limb amputations."
In Phase I of the award period (18 months), the team intends to develop a battery of validated functional metrics for bi-directionally integrated advanced prosthetic limb systems. All of the team leaders are active research scientists operating within applied clinical environments and their individual teams plan to operate in parallel based on each group's experience, skills and expertise.
If successful, the grant could be renewed for subsequent Phases II and III, with a total award amount of up to $2.5 million.