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Ann Biomed Eng. 2000 May;28(5):572-81.

Prototype neural semicircular canal prosthesis using patterned electrical stimulation.

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Department of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The design of a prototype semicircular canal prosthesis is presented along with preliminary results. This device measures angular velocity of the head (+/-500 degrees/s) using a piezoelectric vibrating gyroscope. With a digital filter this velocity is filtered to match the dynamic characteristics of the semicircular canals, which are the physiological rotation sensors of the vestibular system. This digitally filtered signal is used to modulate the pulse rate of electrical stimulation. The pulse rate is varied between 50 and 250 Hz via a sigmoidal lookup table relating pulse rate to angular velocity; the steady-state rate is 150 Hz. A current source utilizes these timing pulses to deliver charge balanced, cathodic-first, biphasic, current pulses to the nerves innervating the semicircular canal via platinum electrodes. Power is supplied via lithium batteries. dc/dc converters are used to generate regulated +/-5 V supplies from the batteries. All of the components are contained in a small, lightweight, Nylon box measuring roughly 43 mm x 31 mm x 25 mm, which can be mounted on the top of an animal's head. This device has been tested in guinea pigs having surgically implanted platinum electrodes, and the results show that the prosthesis can provide a rotational cue to the nervous system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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