The variety of neurostimulation applications is astounding. We’ve written about neurostim used to reduce migraine frequency, to relieve allergy sinus pain, to treat people with opioid use disorder, depression, adolescent IBS, and much more. My personal introduction to neurostimulation followed complex rotator cuff surgery when I went home with electrodes in place wired to a handheld device to reduce the need for pain medication.

Researchers at The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, NY, recently published the results of their work in one of the most dramatic advances with neurostim yet. The team used closed-loop neurostimulation with electrodes in textiles to help quadriplegics move and grasp with individual fingers. The study, published in Bioelectric Medicine, showed textile-based electrodes could be a practical alternative to electrodes placed directly on an individual’s skin.

The team from the Feinstein Institute of Bioelectric Medicine partnered with Myant Inc. for the study, using Myant’s proprietary processes to create a wearable, light-weight sleeve capable of controlling individual finger forces. The system is able to regulate the contraction forces beyond a simple binary open or closed state. Without force level controls, for example, too much force could break eggs and too little force wouldn’t be sufficient to lift or hold onto an object.

The next steps at the Feinstein Institutes include work on finer control and brain-to-computer interfacing. The potential for this technology is far-reaching for individuals with many types of limb paralysis.