I-Corps: Wearable Intraoral Neuromodulation Device to Treat Swallowing Disorders
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The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project will be the development of a wearable device to treat swallowing and speech disorders. The goal of this technology is to address swallowing and speech related problems, such as Dysphagia (i.e., swallowing problems). The occurrence of Dysphagia is as high as 22% in people over 50 years of age and as many as 30% of them receive inpatient medical treatment. In addition, 8-9% of young children have a speech disorder and about 50% of the US children (3-17 years of age) receive intervention services for a voice, speech, language, or swallowing disorder. Further, the swallowing and speech problems result from other illnesses such as stroke, spinal cord injury, head neck cancer, and Parkinson?s disease. The proposed device will be powered through a wireless system connected to a battery worn in a necklace-like non-invasive device.This I-Corps project is based on the development of a wearable intraoral neuromodulation system to solve problems with intraoral sensorimotor loop operation that cause swallowing and speech disorders. By monitoring and stimulating the intraoral organs, this technology will provide high spatiotemporal resolution to favorably intervene in intraoral sensorimotor loop operations. For example, the technology is designed to monitor the beginning of the pharyngeal phase of swallowing and modulate the activity of pharyngeal muscles for swallowing by stimulating the soft palatal nerves. In another example, the technology will monitor the tongue movement during speech and modulate the movement or posture of the tongue by applying stimulation at specific times and specific locations of the tongue. This device also has a unique feature using real-time wireless power transfer between the intraoral coil and necklace coil, which can be easily maintained. The necklace electronics have a battery capacity that is able to power the intraoral electronics for a full day. This real-time power transfer may significantly reduce (or eliminate) the size of the battery for the intraoral device.This award reflects NSF''s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation''s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.