Technology being developed at SFU's school of kinesiology is closer to helping victims of stroke or spinal cord paralysis regain voluntary control of paralyzed limbs.
That's one of the potential applications of research into a 'nerve cuff' electrode system. It is created and patented by SFU kinesiologist Dr. Andy Hoffer and his research team.
These sensory cuffs are implanted around nerves under the skin, where they recover signals generated by skin pressure and other sensory receptors. They then send electrical impulses to a control unit that stimulates other cuffs implanted around the motor nerves to the muscles. This allows movement.
"This technology has reached a point where we are getting close to building nerve cuffs using industrial standards," says Hoffer, "and in numbers that would not only supply the needs of our lab, but other researchers from a wide range of fields."
He says ultimately people with disabilities will benefit from nerve cuff implantations. Hoffer says a primary goal is to restore the voluntary use of paralyzed limbs, but other functions might also be restored. "People with brain or spinal cord injuries not only have paralysis, they also have difficulty with other functions, such as bladder voiding. What we are attempting to contribute is a method of control, in this case, a bladder prosthesis."
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