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Optimal strategies for electrical stimulation with implantable neuromodulation devices

Eickhoff, S (2021) Optimal strategies for electrical stimulation with implantable neuromodulation devices. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Electrical stimulation (ES) is a neuromodulation technique that uses electrical pulses to modulate the activity of excitable cells to provide a therapeutic effect. Many past and present ES applications use rectangular current waveforms that have been well studied and are easy to generate. However, an extensive body of scientific literature describes different stimulation waveforms and their potential benefits. A key measure of stimulation performance is the amplitude required to reach a certain percentual threshold of activation, as it directly influences important ES parameters such as energy consumption per pulse and charge density. The research summarized in this thesis was conducted to re-examine some of the most-commonly suggested ES waveform variations in a rodent in-vivo nerve-muscle preparation. A key feature of our experimental model is the ability to test stimulation with both principal electrode configurations, monopolar and bipolar, under computer control and in randomized order. Among the rectangular stimulation waveforms, we investigated the effect of interphase gaps (IPGs), asymmetric charge balanced pulses, and subthreshold conditioning pre-pulses. For all these rectangular waveforms, we surprisingly observed opposite effects in the monopolar compared to the bipolar stimulation electrode configuration. The rationale for this consistent observation was identified by analyzing electroneurograms (ENGs) of the stimulated nerve. In the monopolar configuration, biphasic pulses first evoked compound action potentials (eCAPs) as a response to the first field transition. In the bipolar electrode configuration, that is the mode in which many contemporary ES devices, including the envisioned miniaturized electroceuticals, operate, eCAPs were first elicited at the return electrode in response to the middle field transition of biphasic pulses. As all rectangular waveform variations achieve their effect by modulating the amplitude and timing of cathodic (excitatory) and anodic (inhibitory) field transitions, the inverted current profile at the bipolar return electrode explains these observed opposite effects. Further we investigated the claimed benefits of non-rectangular, Gaussian stimulation waveforms in our animal model. In our study only moderate energy savings of up to 17% were observed, a finding that is surprising in light of the predicted range of benefits of up to 60% energy savings with this novel waveform in question. Additionally, we identified a major disadvantage in terms of substantially increased maximum instantaneous power requirements with Gaussian compared to rectangular stimuli. We examined physiological changes in fast twitch muscle following motor nerve injury, and optimal stimulation strategies for activation of denervated muscle. While a high frequency doublet has previously been identified to enhance stimulation efficiency of healthy fast twitch muscle, an effect that has been termed “doublet effect”, we here show that this benefit is gradually lost in muscle during denervation. Lastly, the effect of long duration stimulation pulses, that are required to activate denervated muscle, on nerve is examined. We show that these long pulses can activate nerves up to three times when the three field transition within the biphasic pulses are separated by more than (i.e., when the phase width is above) the refractory period of that nerve. This observation challenges state-of-the-art computational models of extracellular nerve stimulation that do not seem to predict such multiple activations. Further, an undesired up to threefold co-activation of innervated structures nearby the denervated stimulation target warrants further research to study whether these co-activations can be lessened with alternative stimulation waveforms such as ramped sawtooth pulses.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Electrical stimulation; Neuromodulation
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 25 Jan 2021 12:39
Last Modified: 21 Dec 2022 11:44
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00014298
Supervisors: Jarvis, J and Barton, G
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/14298
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