Houston, Texas (Ivanhoe Newswire)— About 50,000 spinal cord neurostimulators are implanted each year. These devices use several wires to send low levels of electricity to the spinal cord to relieve pain. Now a group of researchers is testing a way to deliver those signals without any wires, wireless implants.
These chip-like devices are actually implants that pack a powerful punch.
“This is the first one that can deliver this megawatt amount of power safely,” explains Kaiyuan Yang, PhD.
Without using wires, this implant can power multiple biostimulators from a single transmitter outside the body, allowing devices such as spinal cord stimulators to wirelessly send signals to relieve pain.
Jacob Robinson, PhD, explains, “What we want is a wireless network that can tap into the natural network of the body.”
Currently spinal cord stimulators are connected to the stimulation point by electronic wires. Implanting these wires can be challenging.
Robinson describes the procedure as, “If you’ve ever done a renovation in your house, you have to rip apart your walls if I want to run cables around.”
Now imagine doing that with your spine. But without the wires, the incision to place the implant is much smaller and less invasive.
“As we make these bio-electronic devices smaller and smaller, the procedures become less risky for the patients,” Robinson says.
“It will cause minimal infection and other complications and make surgery implantation easier,” Yang agrees.
Working to send shockwaves through the medical industry with new technology.
The researchers also said this implant may one day be used for pacemakers. The implant can be positioned at different parts of the cardiac chambers and controlled by a transmitter outside the body. The scientists say they are a few years away from human clinical trials on the technology.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Bruce Maniscalco, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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TOPIC: WIRELESS IMPLANTS FOR SPINAL CORD INJURIES: MEDICINE’S NEXT BIG THING?
REPORT: MB #4980
SPINAL CORD STIMULATION BACKGROUND: Spinal cord stimulators consist of thin wires, and a small, pacemaker-like battery pack the electrodes are placed between the spinal cord and the vertebrae, and the generator is placed under the skin, usually near the buttocks or abdomen. Spinal cord stimulators allow patients to send the electrical impulses using a remote control when they feel pain. Both the remote control and its antenna are outside the body. Spinal cord stimulation is used most often after nonsurgical pain treatment options have failed to provide sufficient relief. Spinal cord stimulators require two procedures to test and implant the device: the trial and the implantation. It is typically used along with other pain management treatments.
BEST CANIDATES FOR SPINAL CORD STIMULATION: Spinal cord stimulation is used most often after nonsurgical pain treatment options have failed to provide sufficient relief. Spinal cord stimulators may be used to treat or manage different types of chronic pain, including back pain, especially back pain that continues even after surgery, post-surgical pain, arachnoiditis, heart pain that’s untreatable by other means, injuries to the spinal cord, nerve-related pain, peripheral vascular disease, complex regional pain syndrome, pain after an amputation, and visceral abdominal pain and perineal pain.
NEW TECHNOLOGY FOR ELECTRICAL STIMULATION: Researchers at Rice University have developed new implants for implantation in patients with spinal cord injuries that provide electrical stimulation. The new research investigates the ability to power and program multisite bio stimulators using a single transmitter. In the laboratory, the researchers showed an alternating magnetic field generated and controlled by a battery-power transmitter outside the body, potentially worn on a belt or harness, could deliver power and programming to two or more implants that are at least 2.3 inches away.
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