Implantable stimulator powered by walking to treat damaged tendons

September 1, 2021
stimulator device

A novel stimulator device developed at the National University of Ireland-Galway (NUI Galway) harnesses energy from mechanical action, such as walking, to speed up musculoskeletal tissue regeneration – timely tissue regeneration is important notably for tendons or vital support structures damaged either by disease or injury.

The stimulator device by NUI Galway uses a piezoelectric material-based mesh that produces electricity when stretched or is put under mechanical pressure. Similar to fabric, it is made using a scaffold of nano-fibres which are one-thousandth of the thickness of a human hair.

The device is powered by the simple and repetitive act of walking: in in-vitro experiments and experiments in rats with acute Achilles injuries, applying electrical currents to the site of an injury activated tissue regeneration signaling specific to the tendon.

Related: Experimental ankle exoskeleton system increases walking speed

“Successful treatment of tendon damage and disease represents a critical medical challenge,” said principal researcher Dr. Marc Fernandez.

“Our discovery shows that an electrical charge is produced in the treatment target area – the damaged or injured tendon – when the implanted device is stretched during walking. The potential gamechanger here is like a power switch in a cell – the electrical stimulus turns on tendon-specific regenerative processes in the damaged tendon.”

The research establishes the engineering foundations for new treatment devices that take bioelectric cues for repair, without the use of drugs or external stimulation.

According to the NUI Galway’s Dr. Manus Biggs: “This unique strategy of combining a device which is powered through body-movement, and which can induce accelerated tendon healing is expected to significantly impact the field of regenerative devices, specifically in the area of sports or trauma associated injuries.”

“These devices are cost-effective, relatively easy to implant and may pave the way for a whole new class of regenerative electrical therapies,” he added.

Content source

Tags: , ,

Category: Features, Technology & Devices

Comments are closed.