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The stimulus router system: A novel neural prosthesis Open Access


Other title
neural prosthesis
spinal cord injury
functional electrical stimulation
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Gan, Liu Shi
Supervisor and department
Prochazka, Arthur (Physiology)
Examining committee member and department
Lou, Edmond (Biomedical Engineering)
Collins, David (Physical Education and Recreation)
K. Ming, Chan (Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation)
Stein, Richard (Physiology)
Loeb, Gerald (Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California)
Medical Sciences - Biomedical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Neural prostheses (NPs) are electronic stimulators that activate nerves to restore sensory or motor functions. Surface NPs are non-invasive and inexpensive, but are often poorly selective, activating non-targeted muscles and cutaneous sensory nerves that can cause pain or discomfort. Implanted NPs are highly selective, but invasive and costly. The stimulus router system (SRS) is a novel NP consisting of fully implanted leads that “capture” and route some of the current flowing between a pair of surface electrodes to the vicinity of a target nerve. One end of an SRS lead has a “pick-up” terminal that is implanted subcutaneously under the location of a surface electrode and the other end has a “delivery” terminal that is secured on or near the target nerve. The studies presented in this thesis address the development of the SRS from animal testing to its implementation as an upper extremity NP in a tetraplegic subject. Chapters 2 and 3 describe the SRS’s basic properties, provide proof-of-principle of the system in animal studies and identify aspects that maximize its performance as a motor NP. The studies showed that selective and graded activation of deep-lying nerves can be achieved with the SRS over the full physiological range. Long term reliability of the system was demonstrated in chronic animal studies. The surface current needed to activate nerves with a SRS was found to depend on the proximity of the delivery terminal(s) to the target nerve, contact areas of the surface electrodes and implanted terminals, electrode configuration and the distances from the surface anode to the surface cathode and delivery terminal. Chapter 4 describes the first human proof-of-principle of the SRS during an intra-operative test. Finally, Chapter 5 describes the implementation of the SRS for restoration of hand function in a tetraplegic subject. Stimulation parameters and force elicited through the SRS, along with usage of the device were monitored up to 10 months after implantation. The system was found to be useful, reliable and robust. It is argued that the results of these studies indicate that the SRS provides the basis for a new family of NPs.
License granted by Liu Shi Gan ( on 2009-10-15T22:19:14Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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