When a peripheral nerve is damaged due to mechanical injury, inflammation or various pathologies, the signal conduction from our brain to nerves and muscles is entirely or partially impaired, with resulting disabilities. Although scientists have made remarkable progress in many respects, there is still no effective system able to provide an effective solution at the moment.
The aim of PNRelay 2.020 is to design an implantable neural interface used to replace or empower specific functions of the nervous system by extracting information from the signal upstream the damaged site and then selectively converting it into the desired stimulus for the neuromotor system.
The team identified four main fields of interest: safe implantation, optimization of the electrode used for signal recording, minimization of heating release from the circuitry, and signal processing reliability. First, we devised an ad-hoc biocompatible encapsulation meant to contain the electronic board. Secondly, 3D CAD simulations have been used to test the implanted cuff electrode on the nerve to assess the cuff selectivity and optimize its sensitivity. Then, a wired power transfer approach has been preferred for the implanted device to reduce overheating of surrounding tissues. Hence, the original printed board circuit has been modified accordingly. Finally, bandpass and adaptive noise cancelling filters can effectively reduce the multiple sources of noise the signal may embed. Support vector machines and artificial neural networks may recognize the type of stimulated movement from the input signal.
After having analyzed all the regulatory constraints and bureaucratic paths towards commercialization, we believe that this kind of device has an excellent future perspective. The innovativeness in its field of application has the potential to bring a tangible advantage to the whole society.
Principal Academic Tutor:
Maurizio Magarini (Politecnico di Milano)
Umberto Spagnolini, Politecnico di Milano
Lorenza Draghi, Politecnico di Milano
Michele D’Amico, Politecnico di Milano
Danilo Demarchi, Politecnico di Torino
Paolo Motto Ros, Politecnico di Torino
Paola Alberti, San Gerardo Hospital & University of Milano Bicocca
Luca Ravagnan, WISE Neuro (CEO)
Timothy Constandinou, NGNI Lab, Dept. of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Imperial College London
Daniele Piazza, Adant Technologies Inc