Minnesota Patent of the Month – June 2021

A Spinal Cord Stimulator (SCS) can exert pulsed electrical signals along the spine in an effort to control chronic pain. A typical SCS uses implanted pulse generators (IPG) in the lower abdominal region and implanted electrodes in epidural space. This stimulation does not treat or even get rid of pain, it just overrides the pain messages and reduces the intensity. These implants also need to be wirelessly charged, which can be difficult to align with the implanted components. Cirtec Medical Corp. has designed an improved charging system to remove the current limitations.

The IPG is implanted 30 mm deep maximum and connected to the electrodes via wires. The electrodes are positioned in a number of locations and can either be used in groups, or individually for targeted stimulation. The IPG battery has a rechargeable lithium ion battery, with a charging coil and receiving coil. Their charger automatically tunes an optimum frequency for inductive charging. It also uses an alignment sensor to better equip patients for successful charging. Since the efficiency of the power transfer is limited if not in proper alignment, it’s important to properly place charging. As the coils get closer to each other, the impedance changes. This impedance is tracked and used to determine the optimum frequency for charging. This change is also tracked and processed to assess alignment, and is conveyed to the user through a beeper and LED light. This alert can help direct for better alignment. 

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