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Spinostim Places Second in the Biannual ECE Senior Capstone Design Competition

December 14, 2016

From left to right: Alexander (Tex) Teixeira, Michael Hoang, Professor John Kimani, Colleen Finnegan, Liane Wong, Kenneth (Kj) Staley Jr, and Eric Su

About the Team

The Spinostim team is comprised of six senior students with varying backgrounds in Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering. Members of the team have held co-ops at many different companies including Analog Devices, Analogic Corporation, Dell EMC, Google, Mitre Corporation, and Textron. All team members are graduating come May 2017.

Spinostim Places Second in the Biannual ECE Senior Capstone Design Competition

Humans have a biological predisposition to suffer from lower back and extremity pain. It is an inevitability caused by the fact that we have evolved from quadrupedal to bipedal organisms; our spines were simply not designed to support us for walking on two legs. Chronic lower back and extremity pain is experienced by athletes, and people in middle and late adulthood, among others. To address this prolific issue, the Spinostim team collaborated with Micro-Leads Inc. to develop a spinal cord stimulation system to treat chronic pain. Micro-Leads Inc. is a small start-up that creates medical devices to study and treat nerve disorders.

Spinal cord stimulation works to combat pain by applying a small electrical current to the nervous system via the spine. This electrical current blocks the communication of pain from reaching the brain and thereby reduces or completely eliminates the sensation of pain.

The Spinostim system includes three components, a graphical user interface (GUI), a printed circuit board (PCB), and an implantable high electrode density paddle. The GUI allows a medical professional to configure stimulation shapes and patterns to address any patient’s individual therapeutic needs. The PCB receives the commands from the GUI and generates the chosen stimulation pattern and sends the stimulus to the corresponding electrode pads on the paddle. The paddle, which makes contact with the outer layers of the spinal column, sends the stimulus through the nervous system and receives the returning current. Spinostim is the first product of its kind to utilize 48 stimulating electrode pads on a single implantable paddle.

The Spinostim team has successfully met all goals that our sponsor, Micro-Leads Inc., set for us which included designing, manufacturing, and assembling all required parts. Spinostim is Micro-Leads Inc.’s first iteration of a product that fully incorporates a GUI with configurable electrodes, a PCB with a microcontroller unit, stimulation chip and proprietary selector chip, and a high electrode-density paddle into one functional system. We are honored and proud to have received the award of second place in this semester’s senior capstone design competition.

The Spinostim team would like to extend our thanks to our sponsor, Micro-Leads Inc. for supporting our endeavors. Special thanks to Micheil Boesel, Kevin Meador, Bryan McLaughlin, and Brandon Vasquez for their dedicated mentorship. Another thanks goes out to our advisor, Professor John Kimani, for his weekly check-in meetings and words of advice throughout this project.