Neuroprosthetic interface systems for restoring motor functions
Objectives: Focus of NEUWalk is development and pre-clinical validation of highly innovative neuroprothetic concepts for restoration of motor functions in individuals with severe spinal cord injury and for a more efficient, less invasive and safer strategy to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
To achieve these ambitious objectives, NEUWalk will capitalize on recent breakthroughs in neuroscience research demonstrating the capacity of pharmacological and electrical spinal cord stimulations to promote the recovery of full weight bearing walking in paralyzed SCI rats and to alleviate severe Parkinsonian symptoms in rodents. These findings will further be developed towards sophisticated multisite stimulation strategies to engage the spinal networks and will be combined with advanced methods of cortical signal recording and neural decoding. Along with that dedicated neuroprosthetic interfaces suited for chronic implantation will we realized by means of leading-edge microtechnology and microelectronics featuring real time data processing, wireless signal transmission as well as programmable multisite stimulation of the spinal cord.
Elaboration and validation of the NEUWalk neuroprosthetic concepts will be carried out in rats with SCI and non-human primates with PD. To accelerate translation towards efficient clinical applications, first preliminary testing in humans with SCI is planned for the end phase of the project.
The achievements of NEUWalk are expected to open the doors for future therapy of severe SCI enabling partial restoration of voluntary control of paralyzed limbs and for establishing a novel, efficient clinical strategy for symptomatic treatment of Parkinson’ disease.