Health Watch - Medicine and Technology: Electrical Stimulation

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the role of technology in medicine. Interfacing the human body with machines isn’t just a science fiction plot device. Electrically stimulating nerves is a way to treat problems such as epilepsy, chronic pain or depression, and it could even allow amputees to “feel” their artificial limbs or paraplegics to move objects using brainpower. Now researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found a way to make this process more efficient.

Nerve stimulators require a lot of power, and there’s the potential for nerve damage where the stimulators are attached. The UT Southwestern researchers developed a coating of carbon nanotubes for the electrodes that increases conductivity, making them more efficient. Dr. Edward Keefer, the UT Southwestern plastic surgeon who led the study, compared the process to turning a Pinto into a Ferrari. Scientists plan more research into this chemical coating.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in plastic surgery.


March 2009


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