Skip to Main Content
No adequate treatment exists for individuals who remain disabled by bilateral loss of vestibular (inner ear inertial) sensation despite rehabilitation. We have restored vestibular reflexes using lab-built multichannel vestibular prostheses (MVPs) in animals, but translation to clinical practice may be best accomplished by modification of a commercially available cochlear implant (CI). In this interim report, we describe preliminary efforts toward that goal. We developed software and circuitry to sense head rotation and drive a CI's implanted stimulator (IS) to deliver up to 1 K pulses/s via nine electrodes implanted near vestibular nerve branches. Studies in two rhesus monkeys using the modified CI revealed in vivo performance similar to our existing dedicated MVPs. A key focus of our study was the head-worn unit (HWU), which magnetically couples across the scalp to the IS. The HWU must remain securely fixed to the skull to faithfully sense head motion and maintain continuous stimulation. We measured normal and shear force thresholds at which HWU-IS decoupling occurred as a function of scalp thickness and calculated pressure exerted on the scalp. The HWU remained attached for human scalp thicknesses from 3-7.8 mm for forces experienced during routine daily activities, while pressure on the scalp remained below capillary perfusion pressure.