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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2012;49(2):309-21.

Human distal sciatic nerve fascicular anatomy: implications for ankle control using nerve-cuff electrodes.

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Case Western Reserve University Department of Biomedical Engineering, Neural Engineering Center, Wickenden Building, Rm 108, Cleveland, OH 44106-4912, USA.


The design of neural prostheses to restore standing balance, prevent foot drop, or provide active propulsion during ambulation requires detailed knowledge of the distal sciatic nerve anatomy. Three complete sciatic nerves and branches were dissected from the piriformis to each muscle entry point to characterize the branching patterns and diameters. Fascicle maps were created from serial sections of each distal terminus below the knee through the anastomosis of the tibial and common fibular nerves above the knee. Similar branching patterns and fascicle maps were observed across specimens. Fascicles innervating primary plantar flexors, dorsiflexors, invertors, and evertors were distinctly separate and functionally organized in the proximal tibial, common fibular, and distal sciatic nerves; however, fascicles from individual muscles were not apparent at these levels. The fascicular organization is conducive to selective stimulation for isolated and/or balanced dorsiflexion, plantar flexion, eversion, and inversion through a single multicontact nerve-cuff electrode. These neuroanatomical data are being used to design nerve-cuff electrodes for selective control of ankle movement and improve current lower-limb neural prostheses.

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