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Transcutaneous stimulation technology


T. Keller

World Congress of Biomechanics, Munich, Germany, vol. 39, no. Suppl 1, pp. 371

Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TES) applies a sequence of electrical pulses through the skin surface to artificially generate neural and motor activation in humans. It is a widely applied technique found in physical therapy, sports training and medicine and can be used for muscle atrophy treatment, muscle force training, endurance training, pain treatment, functional movement therapy, and motor function restoration. Recently, novel transcutaneous multi-channel stimulation technologies, which allow automatically controlled spatial and temporal distributions of electrical current fields, are emerging [1]. These new approaches potentially enable an improved control of specific limb articulations also under dynamic conditions of multi joint movements. On the other hand number and complexity of control parameters increase dramatically, what makes realistic simulations necessary. We performed finite element modeling (FEM) of the current and potential distributions in the proximal arm to evaluate the influence of stimulation parameters on the electrical field generation. The results were applied to nerve activation models (e.g. NEURON [2]) to estimate the impact of changed electrode sizes and positions on motor nerve activations. In TES experiments isometric finger force measurements showed the feasibility of selective muscle activation using the novel dynamic multi-channel stimulation approach. Future developments will have to concentrate on the miniaturization and integration of the multi-channel stimulation technology to a wearable system. Its combination with kinematic and force sensors will create a new generation of transcutaneous neuroprostheses for improved motor function training and restoration.

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