Students Design Bike Stimulator to Heal Spinal Cord Injuries

The University of Manitoba will unveil a device called “Neuro Mechano Stimulator Pedals” today, meant to stimulate mechano-receptors on the lateral ridge of the sole of the foot.

Two graduate students in the U of M’s Faculty of Engineering designed the device, which looks like a cross between an abdominal exerciser and a stationary bike.

The pedals work to treat patients with spinal cord injuries, and may lead to neuroplasticity, causing generation of new neural pathways in the spine.

“NASA has been using special shoes to stimulate the mechanoreceptors of the foot sole for astronauts to compensate for the void of stimulation due to being in zero-gravity; hence enabling them to walk normally when they get back to earth,” said Dr. Zahra Moussavi, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the U of M. “What we’ve done here is to use that idea, combine it with other sensory input stimulation, and apply it to patients with spinal cord injuries.”

The first eight-week trial on the device is coming to a close, with patients reporting a noticeable and liberating improvement in their mobility.

A demonstration of the device will be made at the Health Sciences Centre’s Rehab Hospital beginning at 1 p.m.