Engineering a Movement to Manage Paralysis Healthcare

Engineering a Movement to Manage Paralysis Healthcare

The intersection of engineering and medicine is a sweet spot called neuromodulation, which involves electronic implants that can restore movement and body functions. In the center of this research—and particularly in the field of functional electrical stimulation (FES)—is Hunter Peckham, Ph.D., an FES pioneer who recognized a need for engineering in medicine, and developing devices and equipment to assist people.

Peckham is a professor of biomedical engineering and orthopedics at Case Western Reserve University and a founder of the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation Center, which studies the application of electrical currents to generate or suppress nerve activity.

In short, Peckham’s research is focused on restoring movement to people with paralysis. (The technique of electrically exciting the nerves going to paralyzed muscles is called FES.) Ultimately, this technology can restore loss of function—such as the ability to grasp using the hand—which allows paralyzed individuals to live more independently. “You can drive better, feed yourself, brush your teeth, shave,” Peckham relates.

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