The Birth

2011: Dr. Philippe Rigoard, then head of neurosurgery, obtains a government program to support costly innovative techniques (STIC). An embryonic research team on neurostimulation techniques is created, under the name "N3LAB" (Neuromodulation and Neural Networks Lab). Made up of 4 people (including Philippe Rigoard and Manuel Roulaud), the team eventually piloted the French multi-center randomized ESTIMET study, including the fifteen university hospital centers (CHU) most advanced in spinal cord neurostimulation and a research budget of 1.9 million euros to manage. The program is extremely selective: 6 projects were funded that year out of 300 submitted.

First scientific developments and evolutions

Over the ensuing years, the team has developed a structure that today focuses on three main areas of research: spine biomechanics, pain and disability.


Biomechanical work on the spine and now the tibia under the direction of Dr Arnaud Germaneau. In 2008, it was Prof. Philippe Rigoard who initiated the dialogue with the clinicians, imagining the first spinal biomechanics projects with the aim of studying kyphoplasty, occipito-cervical fixations and thoraco-lumbar osteosynthesis. It all started with a meeting with biomechanist Arnaud Germaneau. They obtained funding of several hundred thousand euros from industry, notably from Medtronic Spine. Partnership with the P’ Institute and the "Photomechanics & Experimental Mechanics" team - CNRS UPR 3346 at the University of Poitiers.

These projects have led to the development of machines for traction, reproduction of vertebral fractures and analysis of movements in three dimensions, in pure torque, without friction, using optical methods, without contact, at the P’ Institute with Arnaud Germaneau and Jean-Christophe Dupré. Thanks to these projects and machines, a biomechanical research platform has been created within the anatomy laboratory at the University of Poitiers’ Faculty of Medicine. Professor Rigoard’s first young collaborators and foals were Alexandre Delmotte and Samuel d’Houtaud, and when they left Poitiers University Hospital for the private sector, it was Romain David, still an intern, who took up the torch and continued the momentum in this area of research, taking advantage of the resources made available to him. He has also initiated research using digital modelling, thanks to the collaboration developed with a world leader, Ansys.

By putting together the dossier with Philippe Rigoard and his team at Prismatics, Dr David will in turn seek to obtain a national PHRC project in the field of disability. He is currently creating a multi-center clinical research dynamic, federating the network of French rehabilitation physicians, under the aegis of Prismatics and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. All the biomechanical work that will ensue will enrich this existing biomechanical axis 1, and thus the partnership with Dr Arnaud Gemaneau of the CNRS UPR 3346 team at the P’ Institute, in the field of disability biomechanics.


It focuses on the evaluation of implanted neurostimulation devices, following on from the ESTIMET STIC. Numerical modeling of the spinal cord and neural networks (ANSYS collaboration) will complement tomorrow’s research. MRI-compatible neurostimulation devices will enable analysis of cerebral neuronal function under the influence of different types of spinal cord stimulation/waveforms in the context of chronic pain. The use of an MRI-compatible 128-channel electroencephalographic (EEG) system will enhance imaging correlations, enabling the collection of in vivo electrophysiological measurements for future projects.

This is the most important axis in terms of the number of clinical projects and funding obtained (over 5 million euros since 2011).

Beyond the treatment of chronic pain, the neurostimulation devices tested could be transposed tomorrow to the world of disability and the restoration of motor skills in people with neurological deficits, in particular hemiplegics and paraplegics. Our team collaborated with Prof. Grégoire Courtine, whose ambition is to overcome paralysis by implanting neurostimulation devices.

The Pain Axis, dedicated to chronic pain, has also enabled the development of an entire neuroinformatics research area, with the creation of software (3 international patents filed) based on a computerized tactile interface, enabling the surface and intensity of pain experienced by an individual to be assessed in a reliable, reproducible, objective, quantitative manner. This platform is also used to evaluate the technical characteristics of certain implanted neurostimulation devices and analgesic techniques. The acquisition of these objective data, coupled with prospective multiparametric data collection, has led to the creation of algorithmic statistical models for predicting patient response to implanted neurostimulation therapies and analgesic techniques, as part of a care pathway for chronic pain patients. Medico-economic extrapolations are underway to obtain a multidimensional predictive model, first in pain, then in the treatment of surgical spinal pathologies such as spinal fractures, and subsequently in disability.


It focuses on research into disability and autonomy, and aims to answer questions about disability resulting from biomechanical (hard or soft) and/or pain-related issues. The links between spinal biomechanics, pain and disability are interwoven to answer major questions of public health interest.

Axis 3 projects tie in with Axis 2 pain research projects on neurostimulation devices, for which digital models will be developed in partnership with the paraplegic motor restoration project.

Prof. Philippe Rigoard participated in the design of the next multi-column electrodes to be used by Prof. Grégoire Courtine’s team, a world pioneer in spinal cord stimulation research to restore motor function in paraplegics.

Prof. Grégoire Courtine heads the laboratory at the École Polytechnique de Lausanne. He has set up a start-up and raised several tens of millions of euros in funding. He has published several times in Nature (Impact Factor: 43.07, Rank A) in recent years, and was one of the first to initiate a clinical study in humans with spinal cord injuries, with the aim of restoring motor function using spinal cord stimulation.

Our team is also working on obtaining an Innovation Package for minimally invasive peripheral nerve stimulators.

We have also obtained funding for a project using functional electrical stimulation orthoses to rehabilitate the levator muscles of the foot in people with hemiplegic neurological deficits following a stroke.

The evaluation of these devices, using connected insoles on the one hand, and objective data from platforms and connected objects on the other, with a biomechanics research component, is currently being carried out in partnership with CPER-FEDER funding.

A predictive aspect will also be added to this axis in the coming years, under the clinical supervision of Philippe Rigoard and Dr. Romain David, a future physical and rehabilitation medicine (PRM) academic, thus strengthening the Prismatics team.

The study of gait parameters through the use of connected objects in patients with spasticity following a stroke will be at the heart of Axis 3 Disability over the next few years.

We are currently working closely with B-Braun, whose international R&D headquarters are based in Chasseneuil du Poitou.

The aim of this collaboration is to develop the means and modelling tools needed to study the mechanical effects of placing and anchoring intrathecal diffusion devices, not only in the field of spasticity, but also in new, still confidential, neurological therapies.

This work should lead to the development of a complete intrathecal technical solution, based on validated biomechanical considerations as well as studies of molecule diffusion, enabling us to predict and analyze the mechanical effects associated with each stage of the surgical procedure.

Finally, our team has been working for over 10 years on an atlas of peripheral nerve anatomy, with a new international version now in production, aimed at experts, thanks to the integration of all ultrasound techniques, surgical approaches and implanted neurostimulation applications that will result from this knowledge of peripheral nerve anatomy.

The anatomy of limbs and muscles will also be enhanced in the coming years, thanks to collaboration with a renowned anatomist, Prof. Bernard Paratte, who is working on neuromuscular compartmentalization to completely revisit current anatomical data. Dr. Romain David will make this the subject of his Science thesis.

To sum up, our PRISMATICS research team :

  • Over 10 million euros in financing raised
  • Several national and international projects
  • More than 260 publications indexed in international journals
  • Identifying and validating new therapeutic avenues
Contact :

Mail :

Phonenumber :
Manuel Roulaud
+33(5) 49 44 32 23
Monday - Friday, 9:00-18:00

Address :
2 rue de a Milétrie;
Bâtiment CCV, étage 0, 86000 Poitiers