Fully Implantable Plantar Cutaneous Augmentation System for Rats Using Closed-loop Electrical Nerve Stimulation.
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Plantar cutaneous feedback plays an important role in stable and efficient gait, by modulating the activity of ankle dorsi- and plantar-flexor muscles. However, central and peripheral nervous system trauma often decrease plantar cutaneous feedback and/or interneuronal excitability in processing the plantar cutaneous feedback. In this study, we tested a fully implantable neural recording and stimulation system augmenting plantar cutaneous feedback. Electromyograms were recorded from the medial gastrocnemius muscle for stance phase detection, while biphasic stimulation pulses were applied to the distal-tibial nerve during the stance phase to augment plantar cutaneous feedback. A Bluetooth low energy and a Qi-standard inductive link were adopted for wireless communication and wireless charging, respectively. To test the operation of the system, one intact rat walked on a treadmill with the electrical system implanted into its back. Leg kinematics were recorded to identify the stance phase. Stimulation was applied, with a 250-ms onset delay from stance onset and 200-ms duration, resulting in the onset at 47.582.82% of stance phase and the offset at 83.494.26% of stance phase (MeanSEM). The conduction velocity of the compound action potential (31.2 m/s and 41.6 m/s at 1T and 2T, respectively) suggests that the evoked action potential was characteristic of an afferent volley for cutaneous feedback. We also demonstrated successful wireless charging and system reset functions. The experimental results suggest that the presented implantable system can be a valuable neural interface tool to investigate the effect of plantar cutaneous augmentation on gait in a rat model.