Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2020, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (12): 2005038.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB202005038

Special Issue: Neural Interfaces

• REVIEW • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Electrical Stimulation for Nervous System Injury: Research Progress and Prospects

Yizhu Shan1,2, Hongqing Feng1,2,*(), Zhou Li1,2,*()   

  1. 1 Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100083, P. R. China
    2 School of Nanoscience and Technology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, P. R. China
  • Received:2020-05-14 Accepted:2020-06-10 Published:2020-06-15
  • Contact: Hongqing Feng,Zhou Li;
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(81971770);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(61875015);the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences;the National Youth Talent Support Program


Nervous system injury can disrupt communications between neurons, leading to loss of basic nerve functions and even paralysis. The clinical prognosis of nervous system injury is usually poor. This adversely affects the physical and mental health of patients and their families, and causes serious economic losses to the society. Due to slow and incomplete healing, the regenerative capacity of the nervous system is limited. Despite development of various biomedical treatment options such as, stem cell transplantation, neurotrophic factors and scaffold application, it is still very difficult to achieve adequate therapeutic effects that can benefit clinical practice. It is worth noting that nervous system components are closely related to electric fields (EFs), and a fundamental property of neurons is plasticity in response to endogenous and exogenous electrical stimulations. Electrical stimulation has been applied by researchers to induce nerve repair. This review summarizes the progress in research on EFs on neurons and applications of EFs in the treatment of peripheral nerve system and central nerve system injuries, focusing on the methods and effects of electrical stimulation. Research using direct, alternating, and pulsed EFs, with various parameters, has all demonstrated its positive effects on nerve healing and motor function recovery. Research on nanogenerators (NGs), a novel electrical stimulation technology that can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, has achieved great progress in recent years. In biomedicine, NGs can collect the mechanical energy of human motion and convert it into electrical stimulations without requiring an external power supply, which can lead to significant innovations in electrical stimulation therapy. This review also discusses the recent applications of NGs in the treatment of nervous system diseases. NGs can be used to fabricate miniature, ultra-thin, flexible, and biodegradable healthcare devices according to different application scenarios such as in vivo or in vitro. NGs have enabled specific applications in deep brain stimulation, peripheral nerve stimulation, muscle stimulation, and sensory substitution to restore nervous system function. In order to apply electrical stimulation therapy in the clinical setting and improve the quality of life of patients with neurological injuries, further research into stimulation devices and their settings and parameters is highly desirable.

Key words: Electrical stimulation, Nervous system injury, Neural electrode, Functional recovery, Nanogenerator