Student Presentation -- David Kluger
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Ph.D. Dissertation Defense, Friday October 12, 2018 -- Using Utah Slanted Electrode Arrays for Treatment of Peripheral Nerve Neuropathy and for Closed-loop Control of Prosthetic Limbs

SMBB 2650 - Auditorium, 11:30 am

Speaker: David Kluger. Advisor: Dr. Greg Clark


Peripheral nerve implants offer the potential to treat pathologies associated with a compromised ability to transmit information about one's environment to their central nervous system. The transmitted information may cause an unwanted central response, such as pain, or the information may not be able to be endogenously generated, as is the case when an amputation eliminates the signal-producing sensory receptor organs in skin and muscle. Previous reports have indicated that using varying stimulation settings with these neural interfaces can produce a neuromodulatory effect, either exciting action potentials within a nerve or blocking them. Rapidly alternating the current in the kilohertz range blocks nervous transmission while stimulating with short biphasic pulses with extended interpulse intervals causes action potentials to be created.

The use of intrafascicular Utah Slanted Electrode Arrays (USEAs) adds the ability to selectively provide neuromodulation to fibers within a nerve while leaving others unaffected. The ability target specific fibers within a nerve has potentially important benefits for human patient populations with compromised neural function. However, there have been few demonstrations of functional benefits, and the tools needed to make these assessments haven't been well-described. I examine the use of USEAs for clinically treating patients suffering from chronic pain and for treating amputees who desire greater sensory feedback from their prosthetic limbs.

This work provides three key demonstrations of efficacious USEA stimulation: First, I will show that delivering kilohertz high frequency alternating current through USEA electrodes reduces pain symptoms in a patient suffering from a chronic pain pathology. Second, I will show that closed-loop tasks are possible to perform by human amputees in virtual reality environments, which can reduce the cost of examining the functional benefits of receiving sensory feedback from prosthetic devices. I will also provide examples that demonstrate the pros and cons of using virtual prosthetic hands in place of physical ones for closed-loop assessment tasks. Third, I will show how a human amputee controlled a sensorized prosthetic hand with improved functionality when USEA-mediated sensory feedback was delivered to his residual nervous system. These demonstrations provide evidence supporting the clinical adoption of USEAs for treating chronic pain and for improving the control of prosthetic arms.