Washington: In a major breakthrough thatmay benefit thousands of people who can`t close their eyelids,scientists have showed that artificial muscles can restore theability of facial paralysis patients to blink.
EPAM is an emerging technology that has the potentialfor use in rehabilitating facial movement in patients. Theyact like human muscles by expanding and contracting, based onvariable voltage input levels. "Reanimating faces is a natural first step indeveloping synthetic muscles to control other parts of thebody. Facial muscles require relatively low forces, much lessthan required to move the fingers or flex an arm," said teammember Craig Senders. For their study, the scientists used a novel methodfor eyelid rehabilitation in permanent facial paralysis. Theyused an eyelid sling mechanism to create an eyelid blink whenactuated by an artificial muscle. Using cadavers, the surgeons inserted a sling madeof muscle fascia or implantable fabric around the eye. Smalltitanium screws secured the eyelid sling to the small bones ofthe eye. The sling was attached to a battery-operatedartificial muscle. The artificial muscle device and batterywere into a natural hollow at temple to disguise its presence. The team found that the force and stroke requiredto close the eyelid with the sling were within the attainablerange of the artificial muscle. This capability may allow the creation of a realisticand functional eyelid blink that is symmetric and synchronouswith the normal, functioning blink. A similar system alsocould give children born with facial paralysis a smile, thescientists said. "The amount of force and movement the artificialmuscle generates is very similar to natural muscle," Tollefsonsaid, adding the technology will be available for patientswithin the next five years.PTI
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