Research Topics

ICVP Overview
Overview of the Vision Prosthesis project

Intracortical Visual Prosthesis (ICVP)

The goal of this project is to develop an intracortical visual prosthesis (ICVP) that will compensate for blindness by stimulating the visual centers within the brain. Cortical stimulation has the potential to be used for a large fraction of the population with blindness because the approach does not require an intact optic nerve or retina. A large percentage of individuals with blindness have damaged eyes or optic nerves, and a brain-based approach is their only prosthetic solution.

Our approach for the ICVP consists of multiple stimulation modules implanted into the brain’s occipital lobe. These modules each contain an array of 16 electrodes that serve to transmit information to the brain and are controlled and powered transcutaneously by a transmitter unit placed outside of the head.

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Peripheral Nerve Interface (PNI)

We are developing technology that will enable chronic stimulation and recording of peripheral nerves throughout the body. Devices based on this technology may eventually be used to gather motor signals for controlling prosthetic limbs, input sensory feedback from prosthetics directly into the nervous system, and treat chronic conditions through neuromodulation.


Intraspinal Microstimulation (ISMS)

Recent work at the University of Alberta (UA) has kindled interest in using intraspinal microstimulation (ISMS) as a means of restoring standing and walking for individuals with a spinal cord injury. Our research on this project involves the characterization of electrodes and the design of an implantable system for ISMS. Our combined long-term goal is to access both motor and sensory neurons in order to implement a control system in which sensory information is used to restore the ability to walk.


IMES overview
Overview of the IMES system

Intramuscular Electrode Sensor (IMES)

A prosthesis control system has been developed that consists of multiple single-channel implanted EMG sensors which provide control signals for artificial limbs by a multi-institutional team consisting of IIT, Northwestern University, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the Alfred Mann Foundation (AMF), the University of Colorado, and Sigenics, Inc.

EMG signals generated by the residual muscles at each implant site are amplified and digitized by the IMES. A telemetry controller (TC) within the limb prosthesis provides power and orchestrates RF transmissions from each implant over a common inductive link. Each IMES implant device is wirelessly powered and telemeters an EMG signal. The TC decodes the received EMG signals from all of the IMES devices and passes the multi-channel EMG data to a prosthesis controller. By locating them in separately innervated muscles, each IMES device can be treated as an independent control site with minimal cross-talk or interference. IMES signals appear stable and robust because fibrous tissue holds the devices in place and they are not affected by muscle motion.

Where once an amputee would have only two degrees of freedom provided by surface EMG, IMES can provide six to eight degrees of freedom simultaneously. This allows an amputee to perform grasp and wrist rotation functions at the same time, thus providing significantly enhanced limb control.

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