Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Improved method of electrical stimulation could help treat damaged nerves

22.11.2011
Method shown to be potentially safer, more efficient than existing FES devices

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) was developed to help return lost function to patients with upper and lower extremity injuries and spinal cord injuries, among other applications. However, the devices, which work by stimulating neuronal activity in nerve-damaged patients, have a potential shortcoming in that the electrical currents needed for the treatment to work can also send errant signals to surrounding nerves, resulting in painful side effects.

Earlier this fall, a plastic surgery research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and an engineering team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), described a new method of nerve stimulation that reduces the device's electrical threshold by 40 percent, compared with traditional FES therapy. Reported in the October 23 Advance On-line issue of the journal Nature Materials, the findings could help researchers develop a safer, more efficient FES therapy with fewer side effects.

"This new device works by manipulating the concentration of charged ions surrounding the nerve," explains co-senior author Samuel J. Lin, MD, a surgeon in BIDMC's Divisions of Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. "This could potentially mean reduced risk to surrounding nerves because less electrical current is required to stimulate the affected nerve." The researchers additionally discovered that they could use the device to block signals in nearby nerve fibers, which could help prevent unwanted muscle contractions.

The research team, led by Lin and MIT Associate Professor Jongyoon Han, PhD, determined that by altering calcium ion concentrations in the fluid surrounding the nerves they could adjust the electrical impulses.

"Nerve fibers fire their signals based on the message they receive from the interaction of ions, or charged particles," explains coauthor Ahmed M.S. Ibrahim, MD, a Research Fellow in BIDMC's Divisions of Plastic Surgery and Otolaryngology. "We wanted to achieve the lowest current possible that would still result in positive results." After testing the manipulation of sodium and potassium ions, the researchers determined that consistent results could be achieved by removing positively charged calcium ions from the fluid surrounding the nerves.

The newly designed method not only prevents electrical impulses from traveling along a nerve but also uses significantly less current required by existing FES therapy. "This could be of particular benefit for the treatment of patients with various forms of paralysis," explains Lin. "The nerves that control movements and the sensory nerves that carry pain signals are extremely close together, so existing FES therapy has had limitations."

The researchers conducted their study of this new electrochemical-stimulation method in the nerves of frogs and plan to later test it in mammalian nerves.

"This is an important step towards the design of a device to aid in helping patients suffering from nerve paralysis and chronic neurological conditions," say Lin. "By bringing together biomedical and engineering research teams we have been able to successfully develop this new technique. Going forward, these types of collaborations will be absolutely crucial to creating new clinical treatments and enhancing patient care."

In addition to Lin, Han and Ibrahim, study coauthors include Rohat Melik of MIT, Amr N. Rabie of BIDMC and Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt; David Moses of Rice University, Houston, TX; and Ara Tan of the University of Minnesota.

This study was supported, in part, by a Harvard Catalyst grant from the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Institutes of Health) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and ranks third in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is a clinical partner of the Joslin Diabetes Center and a research partner of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.

Bonnie Prescott | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bidmc.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht GLUT5 fluorescent probe fingerprints cancer cells
20.04.2018 | Michigan Technological University

nachricht Scientists re-create brain neurons to study obesity and personalize treatment
20.04.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Getting electrons to move in a semiconductor

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Reconstructing what makes us tick

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Cheap 3-D printer can produce self-folding materials

25.04.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>