Overactive bladder (OAB) patients suffer from a frequent urge to urinate, which can lead to a poor quality of life. Current neurostimulation therapy uses open-loop electrical stimulation to alleviate symptoms. Continuous stimulation facilitates habituation of neural pathways and consumes battery power. Sensory feedback-based closed-loop stimulation may offer greater clinical benefit by driving bladder relaxation only when bladder contractions are detected, leading to increased bladder capacity. Effective delivery of such sensory feedback, particularly in real-time, is necessary to accomplish this goal. We implemented a Kalman filter-based model to estimate bladder pressure in real-time using unsorted neural recordings from sacral-level dorsal root ganglia, achieving a 0.88 ± 0.16 correlation coefficient fit across 35 normal and simulated OAB bladder fills in five experiments. We also demonstrated closed-loop neuromodulation using the estimated pressure to trigger pudendal nerve stimulation, which increased bladder capacity by 40% in two trials. An offline analysis indicated that unsorted neural signals had a similar stability over time as compared to sorted single units, which would require a higher computational load. We believe this paper demonstrates the utility of decoding bladder pressure from neural activity for closed-loop control; however, real-time validation during behavioral studies is necessary prior to clinical translation.
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