[268] Sensory Neuroprostheses for the Restitution of Hearing and Balance

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We work on the development of functional rehabilitation tools for patients with sensory deficits of the inner ear :

  1. We develop a vestibular implant, a neuroprosthesis designed to restore vestibular function in patients with a complete bilateral deficit. We have demonstrated the feasibility of the concept in humans, developed surgical techniques for implanting electrodes in contact with the vestibular apparatus, and developed specific electrical stimulation paradigms. Currently, our work focuses on two areas: (a) we evaluate the actual functional rehabilitation that could be provided to patients by the implant; (b) we investigate the specific contribution of the different sensory modalities involved in balance, since our unique experimental setup allows the de-coupling of the different sources of information (e.g., vestibular and somesthetic/visual information).
  2. The cochlear implant is a very effective tool for the rehabilitation of profound bilateral hearing loss. However, it still does not provide sufficient information in some situations, such as speech perception in noise and sound localization in space. We investigate strategies to improve these aspects. Our goal is to restore an artificial hearing that is as close to normal hearing as possible and to develop a completely implantable neuroprosthesis.

We closely collaborate with the groups of Prof. Herman Kingma (Clinical Vestibular Laboratory, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands), Prof. Fred Mast (Cognitive Psychology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland), Prof. Daniel Merfeld (Jenks Vestibular Physiology Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, United States of America), and Prof. Silvestro Micera (Translational Neural Engineering Laboratory, Center for Neuroprosthetics and Institute of Bioengineering, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne).

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