As you know from my previous blogs, I am a user of the NNP (networked neuroprosthesis). I have access to this experimental technology because I am a research participant in the ongoing Early Feasibility Study. An Early Feasibility Study is just what it sounds like – an early stage in-human study to understand how feasible it is to move forward with the NNP. Things like how it’s configured, the different components involved, what protocol to use, who to implant, etc. are answered. With each person implanted in this early study we learn a vast amount of information about the NNP, both the hardware and software. This technology is incredibly complex. However, from a research participant perspective the engineers ‘miraculously’ convert that into functional movements of my arm and trunk that have a hugely positive impact on my daily life.
This winter I started experiencing some technical issues and my NNP wasn’t working reliably. As a research participant it was my duty to report everything to the team. I was observing everything about when the system was working, when it wasn’t, was anything abnormal, was anything consistent, etc. I flooded the team with detail. And they absorbed it! Even though I’m a professional member of the team because of my job, they included me as a member of the team as a research participant – as exemplified by the photo below of me surrounded by the engineers.
After many rounds of meetings, troubleshooting, and discussions, we identified the problem and came up with a solution that everyone agreed upon. The end result is that my NNP is working reliably again. Also the team learned some very valuable technical information about the NNP that will become a change in a component of the hardware. This will help them create a better commercial version of the system, which will be tested in our Pivotal clinical trial to start sometime next year.
–Kim Anderson-Erisman, PhD