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Cleveland FES Center

Research Thrusts


Movement Restoration

The restoration of limb, respiratory, and other functional movements to individuals with spinal cord injury, stroke, and several other patient populations through the use of electrical stimulation was the original motivation for the establishment of the FES Center. Work in this area over the past 25 years has been prolific, with major scientific and clinical impacts. Early work has motivated additional research that has developed into greater research programs within the FES Center. Movement Restoration research continues to be highly innovative, and the FES Center continues to be a leader in translating laboratory discoveries into commercial products and clinical adoption.



Effective treatment of pain is a high priority across all areas of clinical practice. Although pharmaceuticals have historically been the primary treatment option for pain, the use of neuromodulation and neurostimulation techniques has increased significantly over the past few decades. Research on the use of neuromodulation for the treatment of pain has also grown rapidly within the FES Center because of the world-class expertise of its investigators regarding the effects of electrical current on neural structures, collaborations with top clinical partners and the clear clinical imperative.


Brain Health

Neurological disorders related to brain mechanisms, such as stroke, TBI, epilepsy, parkinson's disease, and some psychiatric conditions, may be mitigated through the use of electrical stimulation. Rehabilitation techniques can employ brain plasticity to retrain neural mechanisms to mitigate the chronic impact of stroke, TBI, and other brain disorders. Computational modeling of brain circuits can now be used to understand the mechanisms of various brain disorders to develop tools that accurately and selectively target structures, and to devise stimulation patterns improving efficacy. While FES Center investigators have developed FES-based stroke rehabilitation techniques and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for motor disorders for many years, we have more recently established a major human Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) activity. These are the mainstays of our Brain Health program.


Autonomic System

The autonomic nervous system is involved in the control/regulation of almost all internal body functions, including glucose and electrolyte concentrations, blood pressure, inflammatory responses, appetite, bladder and bowel function, autonomic dysreflexia, and many others. The use of electrical stimulation, particularly of the vagus nerve and sensory nerve pathways, has become a popular approach for treating disorders associated with these functions. These approaches are termed "electroceuticals" and "bioelectric medicine" because they avoid systemic drug applications, can be quite selective for specific fascicles (or nerve branches) of the vagus nerve, and can be easily modulated (or even turned off). This is an exciting and rapidly growing area for the use of FES.


Tools & Technology

The Cleveland FES Center has the ability to conceive, fabricate, test, and produce advanced technologies addressing clinical applications. Our technological capabilities are divided into two segments; innovation and technical. The innovation group is charged with identifying the cutting edge techniques, materials and concepts from across the industry for possible inclusion into neuralapplications. The technical production group is charged with fabricating small quantities of implantable and external devices to a quality level fit for clinical use.

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