2009 Design of Medical Devices Conference Abstracts

Force Characterization and Rigidity Analysis of a Monolithic Cochlear Prosthesis Actuator OPEN ACCESS

[+] Author and Article Information
R. Tewari, C. Friedrich

 Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931, USA

J. Med. Devices 3(2), 027538 (Jul 09, 2009) (1 page) doi:10.1115/1.3147506 History: Published July 09, 2009


Cochlear implants continue to be used in the treatment of profound deafness. Because of the tonotopic nature of the cochlea, more controlled insertion is perhaps the most important factor affecting device performance. The implant stiffness, and therefore the scala tympani (ST) wall contact force, contributes to insertion difficulties. Attempts to correlate the implant carrier structural properties and the intracochlear contact forces during insertion are limited. Researchers in the Michigan Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems are developing perimodiolar-shaped silicon and parylene-based thin film cochlear electrode arrays and backing devices for a more controllable implantation. We report a method developed for measuring the thin film actuated electrode array rigidity to quantify the ST and modiolus wall contact forces during and after insertion. The method used a pneumatically actuated polyethylene terephthalate (PET) monolithic electrode actuator using pressurized air (0–200 kPa) for actuation. The prototype actuators consisted of PET tubes with an ID of 365 μm and a wall thickness of 58 μm. Force calculations using cantilever beam bending theory were performed to estimate the tube bending forces as a function of internal pressure and therefore variable structural stiffness. Based on estimations, a method was developed to measure such small forces avoiding the use of commercially available, relatively insensitive load cells. A fixture was fabricated incorporating two brass microcantilevers (reference and deflection arms) sensitive to sub-mN forces applied by the actuator on the deflection arm of the cantilevers. Microcantilver deflection data, captured by an interferometric microscope, was used to calculate the actuator force and eventually the reaction force acting on the actuator. The implant actuation forces ranged from 0–0.76 mN over an actuation pressure range of 0–140 kPa, from nearly straight to the relaxed perimodiolar post-implantation shape. For estimating the implant rigidity (EI), the actuator stiffness and the actuation pressure was correlated. The actuator stiffness at different actuation pressures was obtained both theoretically (using beam bending theory and PET tube structural properties) and experimentally (using the derived unconstrained actuator deflections at measured actuator forces). The theoretical and experimental stiffness values ranged from 3.6E-08 to 5.34E-07 N/μm and 2.5E-08 to 7.8E-06 N/μm respectively over the working pressure range. The calculated rigidity constant (EI) of the best prototype insertion tool from the experimental stiffness measurement was 6.71E06 Nμm2. The insertion tool-ST wall contact forces were calculated, using the estimated rigidity, in a hypothetical insertion situation. Force calculations assumed that the implant is equipped with actuator deflection feedback sensors and the actuator's stiffness remains constant over its entire length for a given operating pressure. A contact force of 1.19 mN was found acting on the cochlear ST wall when the insertion tool hits the wall and deflects by 200 μm at an actuation pressure of 140 kPa.

Copyright © 2009 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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