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IMPLANTABLE NEUROSTIMULATOR HAVING DATA REPEATER FOR LONG RANGE CONTROL AND DATA STREAMING

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000011351D
Publication Date: 2003-Feb-14
Document File: 8 page(s) / 650K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

A repeater system allows a remote unit to control, program and/or monitor an implant system from a much further distance than has heretofore been possible. Such repeater system also facilitates transmitting other signals, i.e., other than control signals, to the medical implant system, such as, e.g., streaming audio, or other auxiliary input data.

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IMPLANTABLE NEUROSTIMULATOR HAVING DATA REPEATER FOR LONG RANGE CONTROL AND DATA STREAMING

Background of the Invention

                    The present invention relates to implantable neural stimulators, and more particularly to a way of increasing the distance from which an external remote control device is able to control and monitor the operation of a fully implantable neural system, such as a fully implantable cochlear implant system.

                    Representative cochlear implant systems are disclosed in the following U.S. Patents: 5,824,022; 5,584,869; 5,603,726; and 6,219580.  A representative fully implantable cochlear implant system is disclosed in U.S. Patent 6,308,101.

                    A fully implantable cochlear implant system, or other fully implantable neural system, requires the use of a bi-directional telecommunications link, e.g., a radio frequency (RF) link, to communicate between the implant components and a remote control device for the purpose of setting the operating parameters of the implant system, and for monitoring its operation.  The operating parameters of the implant system may include adjusting sensitivity, volume, program selection, ON/OFF control, and the like.

                    In a fully implanted cochlear implant system such as that described in U.S. Patent 6,308,101, the functions of the implant system are split between electronic circuitry contained in two separate housings: (1) an implantable speech processor (ISP) and (2) an implantable cochlear stimulator (ICS).  The two housings are coupled to each other through a compact multi-turn coil through mutual inductance.  In such a system, the implantable speech processor (ISP) receives and transmits control signals through the multi-turn coil, using mutual inductance, by way of an imperceptible amount of energy, which couples into the radiating modes.  This link is therefore very limited in its transmission and reception range, which is typically only about 10-20 inches.

                    In the past, it has been necessary to hold the remote control device very close to an implantable device, e.g., on or very near the skin surface above the location where the implant device is implanted.  This is cumbersome and unsightly.  In use, with the remote control device held on the skin above the implant location, it is usually difficult for the user to see the controls or displays on the remote control device when it must be held adjacent to the implant location.

                    In order to allow the remote control device to communicate with a fully implantable device from a farther distance, it has been necessary to increase the energy level of the signal transmitted to the implant device.  Disadvantageously, such increase in transmitted signal strength only works in one direction, and increases the power consumption of the remote control device.

                    While radio repeater systems have been in use for many years for tele...