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New treatment for adolescent scoliosis

Around 2 to 3 % of children between the ages of 10 and 16 are affected by scoliosis, a spinal deformity. Scoliosis can cause emotional and social problems for adolescents and, if not properly treated, the scoliosis can progress, causing health problems in adulthood.

Health

The STIMULAIS (A novel muscular micro-electro-stimulation device for the enhanced treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis avoiding bracing and invasive open surgery) project focused on developing an alternative treatment for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS). Working through the muscular electro-stimulation of the paraspinal deep rotator muscles, this device will mean tremendous improvement in AIS treatment. Not only will it stop the progression of the curvature, but it will also correct it. Furthermore, the stimulation protocol is an innovation in technology using sensor electromyography (EMG) and motor function through a feedback loop control. This feature allows the device to be adapted in real-time and maintain stimulation effectiveness, meaning customised treatment for the patient. Another device breakthrough is its small size and the minimally invasive procedure required to implant it. The project has created a consortium of members with varied and critical expertise for successful collaboration throughout its research and development activities. The scientists tackled the objectives in three stages: scientific knowledge generation, development of components and prototype, and integration and validation of the surgical procedure for implantation and the final technology. Research was carried out to ensure the optimal combination of technical parameters in order to achieve a successful electro-stimulation treatment. This meant activities such as analysing EMG data about bioelectric muscular activity, in order to characterise relationships between EMG data and electro-stimulation. The resulting analysis can be used as input for the stimulation protocol of the spine. Various consortium members also worked on different parts of the device development. The hardware components, the stimulation protocol algorithm, the defining of the actual procedure and several other aspects were carried out by various members. The remaining tasks involve obtaining functional prototypes, the external control console and the necessary minimally invasive surgical instruments. STIMULAIS will provide the small and medium-sized businesses of the consortium with greater capabilities, increased value and competitiveness, and improved technological skills. The project and the device will also benefit Europe as a whole, reducing surgeries and increasing savings and so have many positive economic and social consequences. Perhaps the most important will be the improvement of the lives of the many children battling AIS.

Keywords

Adolescent scoliosis, electro-stimulation device, paraspinal,

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