American Society for Peripheral Nerve

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Resorbable Electronics for Peripheral Nerve Interfacing
Matthew R MacEwan, PhD; Wilson Z Ray, MD
Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, MO

Introduction: Functional electrical stimulation of peripheral nerve tissue has been demonstrated to restore sensorimotor function and accelerate axonal regeneration in vivo. Yet, existing methods of applying electrical stimulation to peripheral nerve tissue have presented significant barriers to clinical translation. The present study describes the implementation of a fully-resorbable wireless nerve stimulator capable of delivering functional, therapeutic, and diagnostic electrical stimulation of injured and un-injured peripheral nerve tissue.

Methods: Fully-resorbable electronic implants were fabricated and subcutaneously implanted into Lewis rats. Implanted devices were utilized to deliver functional and brief electrical stimulation (0-20Hz) to sciatic nerves following nerve crush, nerve transection/repair, and sham surgery. Following initial electrical stimulation, implanted wireless devices were utilized to serially assess functional recovery over 3 months post-operatively.

Results: Fully-resorbable wireless nerve stimulators were shown to successfully stimulate peripheral nerve tissue in vivo for over 2 weeks prior to dissolution. Brief electrical stimulation delivered by the implants was observed to increase both the rate of functional recovery and maximal capacity for functional recovery following nerve transection and repair. Fully-resorbable stimulators successfully facilitated both therapeutic stimulation of peripheral nerve tissue as well as serial assessment of nerve and muscle function following nerve crush and nerve transection injury.

Discussion: The present study highlights the ability of a new class of fully-resorbable implantable electronics to successfully interface and therapeutically stimulate peripheral nerve tissue. Fully-resorbable wireless nerve stimulators may therefore serve as a novel means of facilitating therapeutic electrical stimulation and neuromodulation in a variety of clinical settings.

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