December 11, 2023

People with involuntary muscle tremors may have new hope.Scientists are developing a partially implanted system to stimulate muscles so that stop Their problematic activity — with a little help from the nervous system.

The technology involves multiple electrodes, some of which are implanted in the relevant arm or leg muscles, while others are worn on the outside of the body. It was developed as part of the EXTEND project, a consortium led by the Spanish National Research Council and comprising research groups from Germany, Iceland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Injected into muscle tissue through a catheter, the biocompatible platinum-iridium/silicone implant is about 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) long and 1 millimeter thick. Each device is equipped with two electrodes, one at each end. One of the electrodes acts as a sensor, while the other acts as an actuator.

System Diagram
System Diagram

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Electrodes on the outside of the body transmit energy wirelessly to the implant below. These external electrodes are integrated into a band of material worn around the arm or leg near the implant site, and they are hardwired to a small wearable controller/battery pack.

Once one of the implants detects the occurrence of an involuntary muscle tremor, it relays the data (via electrical impulses) to the system’s external components. After analyzing this data, the controller triggers internal electrodes to stimulate the muscles.

Although the current delivered is not high enough to directly affect the muscle, it yes Detected by the body’s central nervous system. The idea is that the induced electrical activity interferes with unwanted signals from the nervous system, causing the latter to stop sending them. In human experiments conducted so far, the system appears to work well.

“Preliminary trials have shown that providing patients with stimulation for an hour or two is sufficient to reduce tremor symptoms for a longer period of time,” says Andreas Schneider-Il from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, one of the project partners. Kurt said.

The hope is that this technology could one day also be incorporated into powered-assist exoskeletons that can move an arm or leg based on detected nerve impulses in a limb.

source: Fraunhofer, extend