Original electronic design to perform epimysial and neural stimulation in paraplegia
This paper presents an original electronic architecture to manage epimysial and neural stimulation using the same implantable device. All the muscles needed to achieve lower limb movements such as standing and walking can thus be activated. Mainly for surgical reasons, some muscles need to be stimulated through different inputs: epimysium or motor nerve. We developed an electronic solution, including the design of an application-specific integrated circuit, to meet the requirements of both types of stimulation. Five years after the successful implantation of the system, we were able to evaluate the system's performance. The patient is still using the system at home and no failure occurred during this 5-year period. We conclude that the electronic design not only provides a unique investigative tool for research, but that it can also be used to restore the motor function of the lower limb. This technology has an advantage over external stimulation because the patient can safely use the system at home. However, improvements such as lower power consumption, and thus greater autonomy, are needed. We further conclude that the modelling of the electrical behaviour of the electrodes is reliable and the estimated parameter values are homogeneous and consistent for the same type of electrode. Thus, the three parameters of the first-order model can be identified from an acute animal experiment and provide a means to optimize the design of the output stage of implanted stimulators.