Device and Method for Measuring Spinal Reposition Sense (20013)

Proprioception is used by the body to communicate position sense and appreciation of movement of body parts. Receptors located in muscles, ligaments, tendons, capsules, menisci and the skin provide proprioceptive input about the body's static and dynamic position sense in space. A growing body of research supports that injury or disease (degenerative disc disease, DDD) affecting the spine may disrupt spinal proprioception. In turn, the resulting proprioceptive impairment may further place spinal structures at risk for re-injury. Additional research has shown that proprioception training can improve spinal proprioception.

In recent years there has been a growing interest in measuring proprioception in the spine. Recent studies have begun to investigate proprioception and the effect of injury in the spine; cervical, lumbar, and thoracolumbar spines, and the trunk as a whole. These studies established a range of absolute active repositioning errors, and therefore, any future studies measuring joint repositioning sense could be expected to have a repositioning error within the previously established limits. Although valuable findings were obtained from the studies, proprioception in the spine is not routinely assessed or treated in the clinical setting because the available devices and procedures are not suitable. Many of the devices involve the attachment of substantial apparatus, including sensors on the subject's skin that introduce additional cutaneous input. Other available devices are not suitable diagnostic tools for clinical purposes because they are cumbersome, require extended periods of time for testing and are expensive. A technique is clearly needed to enable clinicians to assess proprioception and its loss in the spine.

Recently researchers at Northwestern University have developed a compact Back Bending Efficient Proprioceptive rePositioning device (BBEPP) that measures proprioception (repositioning sense) in the thoracolumbar spine. Proprioception can be tested reliably, quickly, easily and inexpensively in any clinical setting that has about a four foot square space. The invention provides a method of diagnosing or evaluating deficits in spinal repositioning sense. This method can be used to monitor the effectiveness of proprioception retraining programs by comparing the repositioning sense of a human subject before and after therapy.

FIELD OF APPLICATION: Diagnosis and evaluation of spinal problems in subjects that can sit independently and move into spinal flexion range of motion.

ADVANTAGES: Ease of application, low cost, and reliable applicability to the clinical setting to both assess and reassess after treatment intervention in patients with proprioception problems.

STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT: A prototype has been built and tested, and results with asymptomatic patients have been consistent with those reported in the literature using alternative methods. U. S. Patent No. 6,960,465 has issued and Northwestern is interested in licensing the technology for commercialization.

Inventor(s): Cheryl Petersen, Erinn Ewers, Mary Ellen Bulow, Clive Pai, and Arvid Brekke

Type of Offer: Licensing

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