Each year, 750,000 people in the US experience a stroke and 11,000 suffer a spinal cord injury. 500,000 Americans currently live with cerebral palsy, 270,000 with multiple sclerosis and 5.3 million with the after-effects of a traumatic brain injury, and thousands more with movement disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and other conditions that rob them of their ability to move their muscles and, in many cases, live independently.
Patients who have lost the ability to move an arm or a leg, stand up out of a chair or swallow a mouthful of food due to a neuromuscular condition are often faced with months to years of physical therapy to try to restore or retain some level of muscle function. While many patients experience success in their efforts, those who don’t may face fewer clinical options as time passes from the original onset of their symptoms.
In 1989, the Alfred Mann Foundation began work on a solution to these challenges. Over the next several years, AMF, led by then-president Joe Schulman, in partnership with the Illinois Institute of Technology and Queens University in Canada, developed an implantable electrical stimulation system called the microstimulator that contains the pulse generator and the electrode together in a package the size of a matchstick. Once implanted, the devices communicate wirelessly with a cell phone-like controller worn outside the body that tells each independent implant when to stimulate. These implants can be placed in almost any part of the body, often using a tool much like a large-gauge needle to insert it, and one controller can be used to control as many devices as is therapeutically useful for the patient’s medical condition.
Current development work is leading toward microstimulator devices that can also sense changes in pressure, limb angle, muscle activity and temperature. Feeding such information back into the controller unit may allow for improved control of stimulation, potentially making movements more natural or therapeutically helpful for the patients.
CAUTION: Investigational device. Limited by Federal (or USA) law to investigational use.
Exclusively for Clinical Investigation