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Neural prostheses in clinical-applications. Trends from precision mechanics towards biomedical microsystems in neurological rehabilitation

: Stieglitz, T.; Schuettler, M.; Koch, K.P.


Biomedizinische Technik 49 (2004), No.4, pp.72-77
ISSN: 0013-5585
ISSN: 1862-278X
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IBMT ()

Neural prostheses partially restore body functions by technical nerve excitation after trauma or neurological diseases. External devices and implants have been developed since the early 1960s for many applications. Several systems have reached nowadays clinical practice: Cochlea implants help the deaf to hear, micturition is induced by bladder stimulators in paralyzed persons and deep brain stimulation helps patients with Parkinson's disease to participate in daily life again. So far, clinical neural prostheses are fabricated with means of precision mechanics. Since microsystem technology opens the opportunity to design and develop complex systems with a high number of electrodes to interface with the nervous systems, the opportunity for selective stimulation and complex implant scenarios seems to be feasible in the near future. The potentials and limitations with regard to biomedical microdevices are introduced and discussed in this paper. Target specifications are derived from existing implants and are discussed on selected applications that has been investigated in experimental research: a micromachined implant to interface a nerve stump with a sieve electrode, cuff electrodes with integrated electronics, and an epiretinal vision prosthesis.