More recent research into the role of mental intention is starting to tie together the action of the brain in initiating nerve-firing and muscle movement (I'm trying to dig up that article, which ran, via wire services, in the popular press in late 2008
Cool, thanks Cady! I'll look too-- I hadn't realized that popular press publications might have featured this.
And, I got excited about the IMF equipment you linked to, but I read a document from that company's website that pretty much indicated that as far as they understand the mechanism, it is nothing special-- it just detects alpha motoneuron firing and triggers the muscle in response (exactly what the alpha neurons are trying to do in the first place). In other words it is using attempted movement rather than pure intention-to-move.
The firing of alpha motoneurons are the very last thing that happens before muscles contract-- they are the direct cause of contraction. This puts them downstream of everything: movement planning, anticipatory postural adjustments, and anything that might happen in response specifically to the intention to move. I guess in chinese terms these neurons would be linked intimately to Li, not Yi or Qi-- I say that because the qi lead by yi is something that happens before movement, and through training can happen without movement-- alpha firing in general cannot (unless it is very weak firing, not the kind associated with a good strong movement).
So, although the name of this therapeutic product got my hopes up, it looks like this company has not built an artificial bridge between qi and li (provided their explanation is indeed how it works).
Caveat, if in actuality, manipulation of qi is acheived by very weak alpha neuron firing (which would activate just a few deep, fascially-connected fibers), then maybe this is something interesting indeed.