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Textile Electrodes for Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation


M. Lawrence, T. Kirstein, T. Keller

Empa Dubendorf, Switzerland

Electrical Stimulation (ES) is a technique used to artificially contract paralysed muscles in subjects with unilateral brain or spinal cord injuries. An electrical current pulse flows between an ‘active’(cathode) and ‘indifferent’(anode) electrode, causing depolarization of the cellular membranes and generation of action potentials in nerves and muscle contraction. Transcutaneous (surface) electrodes are often chosen because they can be easily adapted and optimised for different functional modalities and physiological changes, however their placement iscrucial in to ensure optimal muscle activation. In order to improve the applicability and selectivity of TES, itis necessary to reduce this dependency upon electrode placement. One approach is to use a large array of transcutaneous elements, each of which can be independently switched between stimulation and off. By selecting subsets of elements, it is possible to generate electrodes whose size, shape and location can be dynamically controlled. Existing electrode transcutaneoustechnology is unsuitable for high resolution electrode arrays, and we have therefore started developing novel textile based approaches.

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