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 The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>