The work, now in its third year of support from a four-year, $1.4 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, has resulted in the development and testing of a technology known by its acronym, FLAMES (floating light activated micro-electrical stimulators).
The technology, really a tiny semiconductor device, will eventually enable people with spinal cord injuries to restore some of the motor functions that are lost due to injury. Energized by an infrared light beam through an optical fiber located just outside the spinal cord these micro-stimulators will activate the nerves in the spinal cord below the point of injury and thus allow the use of the muscles that were once paralyzed.
This past September, The Journal of Neural Engineering ("FLAMES tested in the rat spinal cord," http://iopscience.iop.org/1741-2552/8/5/056012) published the first testing in animals. "Our in vivo tests suggest that the FLAMES can be used for intraspinal micro-stimulation even for the deepest implant locations in the rat spinal cord," said Sahin.
"The power required to generate a threshold arm movement was investigated as the laser source was moved away from the micro-stimulator. The results indicate that the photon density does not decrease substantially for horizontal displacements of the source that are in the same order as the beam radius. This gives confidence that the stimulation threshold may not be very sensitive to small displacement of the spinal cord relative to the spine-mounted optical power source." Sahin spoke about this work at the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference in Boston, also in September of 2011.
FLAMES is a semiconductor device that is remotely controlled by an optical fiber attached to a low power near-infrared laser. The device is implanted into the spinal cord, and is then allowed to float in the tissue. There are no attached wires. A patient pushes a button on the external unit to activate the laser, the laser then activates the FLAMES device.
"The unique aspect of the project is that the implanted stimulators are very small, in the sub-millimeter range," Sahin said. "A key benefit is that since our device is wireless, the connections can't deteriorate over time plus, the implant causes minimal reaction in the tissue which is a common problem with similar wired devices."
The electrical activation of the central and peripheral nervous system has been investigated for treatment of neural disorders for many decades and a number of devices have already successfully moved into the clinical phase, such as cochlear implants and pain management via spinal cord stimulation. Others are on the way, such as micro stimulation of the spinal cord to restore locomotion, micro stimulation of the cochlear nucleus, midbrain, or auditory cortex to better restore hearing and stimulation of the visual cortex in the blind subject. All of them, however, are wired, unlike FLAMES, which is not.
Selim Unlu, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Boston University, is working with Sahin. "We hope that once FLAMES advances to the clinical stage, patients paralyzed by spinal injury will be able to regain vital functions," Sahin said.
NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls more than 9,558 students pursuing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 120 programs. The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report's 2010 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Office of Continuing Professional Education.
Sheryl Weinstein | EurekAlert!
Rutgers researchers develop automated robotic device for faster blood testing
14.06.2018 | Rutgers University
Speech comprehension with a cochlear implant
04.06.2018 | Universität zu Lübeck
In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.
Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...
Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.06.2018 | Life Sciences