Author (s): Philipp Braun;Jonathan Rapp;Werner Hemmert;Bernhard Gleich
Magnetic stimulation of peripheral nerves is evoked by electric field gradients caused by high-intensity, pulsed magnetic fields created from a coil. Currents required for stimulation are very high, therefore devices are large, expensive, and often too complex for many applications like rehabilitation therapy. For repetitive stimulation, coil heating due to power loss poses a further limitation. The geometry of the magnetic coil determines field depth and focality, making it the most important factor that determines the current required for neuronal excitation. However, the comparison between different coil geometries is difficult and depends on the specific application. Especially the distance between nerve and coil plays a crucial role. In this investigation, the electric field distribution of 14 different coil geometries was calculated for a typical peripheral nerve stimulation with a 27mm distance between axon and coil. Coil parameters like field strength and focality were determined with electromagnetic field simulations. In a second analysis, the activating function along the axon was calculated, which quantifies the efficiency of neuronal stimulation. Moreover, coil designs were evaluated concerning power efficacy based on ohmic losses. Our results indicate that power efficacy of magnetic neurostimulation can be improved significantly by up to 40% with optimized coil designs.