Low-power transcutaneous current stimulator for wearable applications

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BioMedical Engineering OnLine

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BACKGROUND: Peripheral neuropathic desensitization associated with aging, diabetes, alcoholism and HIV/AIDS, affects tens of millions of people worldwide, and there is little or no treatment available to improve sensory function. Recent studies that apply imperceptible continuous vibration or electrical stimulation have shown promise in improving sensitivity in both diseased and healthy participants. This class of interventions only has an effect during application, necessitating the design of a wearable device for everyday use. We present a circuit that allows for a low-power, low-cost and small form factor implementation of a current stimulator for the continuous application of subthreshold currents. RESULTS: This circuit acts as a voltage-to-current converter and has been tested to drive + 1 to - 1 mA into a 60 k[Formula: see text] load from DC to 1 kHz. Driving a 60 k[Formula: see text] load with a 2 mA peak-to-peak 1 kHz sinusoid, the circuit draws less than 21 mA from a 9 V source. The minimum operating current of the circuit is less than 12 mA. Voltage compliance is ± 60 V with just 1.02 mA drawn by the high voltage current drive circuitry. The circuit was implemented as a compact 46 mm × 21 mm two-layer PCB highlighting its potential for use in a body-worn device. CONCLUSIONS: No design to the best of our knowledge presents comparably low quiescent power with such high voltage compliance. This makes the design uniquely appropriate for low-power transcutaneous current stimulation in wearable applications. Further development of driving and instrumentation circuitry is recommended.