In the SFU Neurokinesiology Laboratory we study how movements are normally controlled and, using this information, we aim to develop advanced methods to treat and assist people affected by neurological disabilites such as limb paralysis, bladder incontinence or chronic pain. We are interested in the central and peripheral neural circuitry responsible for movement control and sensation, as well as in plastic changes that occur in the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves and muscles during development, aging, and as a consequence of traumatic injuries or disease processes. We pioneered the use of permanently implanted nerve cuff recording electrodes, initially as powerful tools for basic research, and more recently also as permanent interfaces for totally implanted neuroprosthetic systems that detect activity patterns in sensory nerves and control the activation of paralyzed muscles using functional electrical stimulation (FES) applied to motor nerves. Our medical device prototype development activities surged forward in the 1990s, when we patented advanced nerve cuff electrode designs, devised manufacturing methods suitable for commercial fabrication, and demonstrated the long-term safety and efficacy of implanted nerve cuff electrodes. In 1997 we created Neurostream Technologies, an SFU spin-off R&D company that moved its headquarters to Port Coquitlam, BC, in 2001 but continued to carry out some of its development and testing in the Neurokinesiology Lab and other SFU labs. With private investment and grants from national and provincial agencies, we assembled an expert biomedical engineering, clinical-regulatory and project management team that between 2001 and 2004 designed, developed and tested NeurostepTM, a unique, pacemaker-like, totally implanted prototype assistive device, the only such device to date that incorporates nerve recording/stimulating cuffs and chip-based, ultra low-noise nerve signal amplifiers. In 2003-2004 we carried out an 8-month pilot feasibility trial with a hemiplegic stroke subject with severe foot drop who received a fully implanted Neurostep system that electrically activated his paralyzed ankle and foot appropriately to assist his walking. In 2004 Neurostream was wholly acquired by Victhom Human Bionics, a Quebec-based company that is currently expanding the Neurostep technology into a platform of implantable assistive devices for disabilities such as foot drop, incontinence, limb amputation, paraplegia and chronic pain. Recently started new projects in the Neurokinesiology Laboratory include collaborative research in imaging of human peripheral nerves and in the biomechanics and energetics of walking.

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