An implant for chronic selective stimulation of nerves (invited paper)

M. Bugbee, N. de N. Donaldson, A. Lickel, N. J. M. Rijkhoff, J. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (SciVal)


An implantable stimulator system has been developed for nerve stimulation. The system is capable of stimulating selectively, either by fibre position, fibre size or by sending action potentials in one direction only, based on the use of nerve cuffs. The stimulator produces either quasi-trapezoidal current pulses, to allow anodal blocking, or conventional rectangular-shaped current pulses, of amplitude 20 μA to 5 mA (in 20 μA steps) with duration of 16 μs to 1 ms (in 8 μs steps). For safety, both active and passive charge balancing is used. The amplitude of the active charge-balancing phase can be varied between 1/7 and 1/47 of the pulse amplitude. During manufacture, each implant is customised so as to drive either 6 quasi-tripolar (dipolar), 4 tripolar or 2 pentapolar cuffs.

Possible applications of the device are: improved defaecation and bladder voiding after spinal cord injury, by stimulation of the sacral motor roots; neuromodulation to reduce hyperreflexia without concomitant muscle contractions; in stroke patients, to enable balanced inversion–eversion while dorsiflexing the ankle by stimulating the peroneal nerve. It may also be used in chronic animal experiments.

This paper describes the implant system, its hardware and communication protocol, and shows results from in vitro tests of the device and the first acute anodal-blocking experiments in pigs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
JournalMedical Engineering & Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2001


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