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Human excitable cells can be stimulated noninvasively with externally applied time-varying electromagnetic fields. The stimulation can be achieved either by directly driving current into the tissue (electrical stimulation) or by means of electromagnetic induction (magnetic stimulation). While the electrical stimulation of the peripheral neuromuscular system has many beneficial applications, peripheral magnetic stimulation has so far only a few. This paper analyzes theoretically the use of multiple magnetic stimulation coils to better control the excitation and also to eventually mimic electrical stimulation. Multiple coils allow electronic spatial adjustment of the shape and location of the stimulus without moving the coils. The new properties may enable unforeseen uses for peripheral magnetic stimulation, e.g., in rehabilitation of patients with neuromuscular impairment.
Date of Publication: June 1999