Neuroprosthetic applications of electrical stimulation.
Neural prostheses are a developing technology that use electrical activation of the nervous system to restore function to individuals with neurological impairment. Neural prostheses function by electrical initiation of action potentials in nerve fibers that carry the signal to an endpoint where chemical neurotransmitters are released, either to affect an end organ or another neuron. Thus, in principle, any end organ under neural control is a candidate for neural prosthetic control. Applications have included stimulation in both the sensory and motor systems and range in scope from experimental trials with single individuals to commercially available devices. Outcomes of motor system neural prostheses include restoration of hand grasp and release in quadriplegia, restoration of standing and stepping in paraplegia, restoration of bladder function (continence, micturition) following spinal cord injury, and electrophrenic respiration in high-level quadriplegia. Neural prostheses restore function and provide greater independence to individuals with disability.
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