Rehabilitation and Neural Engineering Laboratory

Epidural Spinal Cord Stimulation for Sensory Restoration and Phantom Limb Pain Reduction in Upper-Limb Amputees

Study Goal

The goal of the study is to characterize the types of sensations produced by electrical stimulation of the spinal cord and spinal roots, as well as the effects of stimulation on phantom limb pain and your ability to control a prosthetic limb.

Study Summary 

The proposed study is a pilot study to examine the perceived sensations evoked in upper-limb amputees during electrical stimulation of the spinal nerves, the effect of sensory feedback on control of a prosthetic limb, and the effect of stimulation on phantom limb pain. Results of this study will provide the foundation for future development of a neuroprosthesis to restore sensory function to individuals with upper-limb amputation, thereby increasing the functionality of prosthetic limbs and improving quality of life. 

During this study, we will:

  • Characterize the sensations evoked by cervical epidural spinal nerve stimulation
  • Quantify the stability of sensations over time 
  • Characterize the effects of cervical epidural spinal nerve stimulation on phantom limb sensations and phantom limb pain 
  • Characterize changes in control of a prosthetic hand in the presence of sensory feedback

Inclusion Criteria

  • Subjects must have an amputation of at least one upper limb, at a level between the wrist and shoulder joints.
  • Subjects must be over 6 months post-amputation at time of lead placement.
  • Subjects must be between the ages of 18 and 70 years old. Participants outside this age range may be at an increased surgical risk and increased risk of fatigue during testing.

Exclusion Criteria

  • Unable to speak or read English
  • Subjects must not have any serious disease or disorder that could affect their ability to participate in this study
  • Women of childbearing age who are pregnant or breast feeding
  • Subjects currently receiving medications that may affect blood coagulation.
  • Allergy to contrast medium or kidney failure that could be exacerbated by contrast agent (for MRI)
  • Subjects with implanted magnetic devices

Principal Investigator:

Michael Boninger, MD

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Additional Information

Study Brochure