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Author Notes:

Corresponding author at: School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 85 Fifth Street NW, Room TSRB-419, Atlanta, GA 30308-1030, United States. mgh@gatech.edu (M. Ghovanloo)

The authors thank Dr. Laura O’Farrell and Ms Kimberley Benjamin for assistance with animal care, Dr. Marla Gearing, Ms Deborah Cooper and Mr Robert Baul at the Emory Neuroscience NINDS Core Facilities Neuropathology and Histochemistry Core (Grant number iP30 NS05507) for paraffin processing and histology assistance.


Research Funding:

Supported by NIH Grant R21EB016662 to AJS and MG.


  • Tongue
  • Tongue Drive System (TDS)
  • Magnet
  • Implant
  • Spinal cord injury

Tongue implant for assistive technologies: Test of migration, tissue reactivity and impact on tongue function


Journal Title:

Archives of Oral Biology


Volume 71


, Pages 1-9

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Objective: The Tongue Drive System (TDS) is a new wearable assistive technology (AT), developed to translate voluntary tongue movements to user-defined computer commands by tracking the position of a titanium-encased magnetic tracer (Ti-Mag) implanted into the tongue. TDS application, however, is constrained by limited information on biological consequence and safety of device implantation into the tongue body. Here we implant a stainless-steel pellet in the rat tongue and assay pellet migration, tongue lick function, and tongue histology to test the safety and biocompatibility of unanchored tongue implants. Design: Water consumption, weight and lick behavior were measured before and for >24 days after implantation of a stainless-steel spherical pellet (0.5 mm) into the anterior tongue body of twelve adult male rats. X-rays were obtained weekly to assess pellet migration. Pellet location and tissue reaction to implantation were determined by post-mortem dissection and histology of the anterior tongue. Results: By dissection pellets were distributed across the transverse plane of the tongue. Measures of water consumption, weight, and lick behavior were unchanged by implantation except for a decrease in consumption immediately post-implantation in some animals. By X-ray, there was no migration of the implant, a finding supported by pellet encapsulation demonstrated histologically. Measures of lick behavior were minimally impacted by implantation. Conclusion: A smooth spherical stainless-steel implant in the anterior tongue of the rat does not migrate, is encapsulated and does not substantially impact lick behavior. These findings support the implantation of small tracers in the anterior tongue in humans for operating wearable assistive technologies.

Copyright information:

© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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