Facial nerve dysfunction is a common problem affecting both genders, all races, and all ages and is caused by numerous medical problems, including stroke. In particular, the inability to blink causes serious long term problems both physically and psychologically. Electrical stimulation of a blink does not work because the current needed to induce a blink also causes intense pain. The long-range objective of our research is to develop an artificial synapse chip system that can be used in a novel therapeutic strategy for denervated muscles by mimicing the natural stimulation that occurs at neuromuscular junctions. The key components of this long-range project are to use micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) technology to create an indwelling microstimulator device that can deliver a combined electrical and chemical stimulation when placed on a denervated muscle. In addition, this work will require the design and fabrication of a sensing chip to be placed on a nearby functional muscle to signal the artificial synapse chip to induce a synchronous response in the affected muscle. The final goal will be an integrated wireless subdermal system.
Project end date: 08/18/11