Stretchable microneedle electrode array for stimulating and measuring intramuscular electromyographic activity

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Guvanasen, Gareth Sacha
DeWeerth, Stephen P.
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The advancement of technologies that interface with electrically excitable tissues, such as the cortex and muscle, has the potential to lend greater mobility to the disabled, and facilitate the study of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Myoelectric interfaces are currently limited in their signal fidelity, spatial resolution, and interfacial area. Such interfaces are either implanted in muscle or applied to the surface of the muscle or skin. Thus far, the former technology has been limited in its applications due to the stiffness (several orders of magnitude greater than muscle) of its substrates, such as silicon and polyimide, whereas the latter technology suffers from poor spatial resolution and signal quality due to the physical separation between the electrodes and the signal source. We have developed a stretchable microneedle electrode array (sMEA) that can function while stretching and flexing with muscle tissue, thereby enabling multi-site muscle stimulation and electromyography (EMG) measurement across a large interfacial area. The scope of this research encompassed: (i) the development of a stretchable and flexible array of penetrating electrodes for the purposes of stimulating and measuring the electrical activity of excitable tissue, (ii) the characterization of the electrical, mechanical, and biocompatibility properties of this electrode array, (iii) the measurement of regional electrical activity of muscle via the electrode array, (iv) the study of the effect of spatially distributed stimulation of muscle on the fatigue and ripple of muscle contractions, and (v) the assessment of the extent to which the stretch response of electrically stimulated muscle behaves in a physiological manner.
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