David L. Zealear, PhD Professor

I am a tenured Professor in the Departments of Otolaryngology and Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University. I am a neuroscientist with expertise in electrophysiology and bioengineering. I have performed innovative basic research on the neural mechanisms underlying laryngeal control in animals. I have also led translational research in animals and humans, focusing on the development of new treatments for laryngeal and facial paralysis. With this background I introduced the idea of using functional electrical stimulation (FES) to reanimate paralyzed muscles of the head, neck, and thorax in 1977. Over the course of studying FES of denervated canine laryngeal muscles, I also discovered that I could influence the pattern of muscle reinnervation to favor reconnection by original over foreign motoneurons. The possibility of controlling the rewiring of targets by the nervous system following injury to prevent faulty or synkinetic reinnervation is a profound discovery. The present line of research is a clinical trial of bilateral reanimation of the bilaterally paralyzed larynx. An Infinity implantable pulse generator (IPG) is used to deliver stimuli via DBS electrodes to activate abductors of the vocal folds. Our previous canine studies have shown that bilateral glottal opening and exercise tolerance can be restored to a normal level without aspiration with this implantable system.

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Facility:
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Location:
Nashville, TN
Session(s):

Bioelectric Medicine