Wireless neurostimulator like a pacemaker for the brain

Tuesday, 24 May, 2022

Wireless neurostimulator like a pacemaker for the brain

Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, chronic depression and other psychiatric conditions can now be managed at home, thanks to the development of a remote care platform by researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ), Neurosciences Queensland and Abbott Neuromodulation.

Electrodes are surgically inserted into the brain and electrical stimulation is delivered by a pacemaker that alters brain function, providing therapeutic relief and improving quality of life. The digital platform allows clinicians to monitor patients remotely, as well as adjust the device to treat and alleviate symptoms in real time.

“By creating the world’s first integrated and completely wireless remote care platform, we have removed the need for patients to see their doctor in person to have their device adjusted,” said Professor Peter Silburn from UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute (QBI). “There are no cures for many of these conditions, which often require lifelong treatment and care, so for those people the device would be a game changer.”

While the team started working on this digital health solution before COVID-19, the pandemic elevated the need for remote care platforms, particularly for older people and those living in remote areas with increased travel difficulties. Silburn said the system also fosters increasingly personalised treatment and data-driven clinical decisions, which could improve patient care.

“During the study, we established the platform safety, security, usability and effectiveness, and optimised its features using patient feedback in a biodesign process,” Silburn said. “In the initial weeks of a limited market release, we conducted 858 remote care sessions and maintained a robust and high success rate.”

The researchers are confident the technology could be adapted for many other conditions in the future. Silburn said, “As we discover more about the biomarkers in brain-related disorders, we will refine neuromodulation systems to improve treatment for neuropsychiatric disorders like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia and Tourette’s syndrome, to name a just a few.”

Having been described in the journal Scientific Reports, the digital health platform for remote neuromodulation systems now has regulatory approval and launched in Australia in October 2021. It has also been adopted in the United States by the FDA and received the European CE mark.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Siarhei

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