Deep brain stimulation works like a pacemaker for the brain. Millimeter-thin electrodes are implanted in the brain. The electrodes deliver tiny electrical signals that block abnormal brain signals. A small device that powers the electrodes is implanted in the patient's chest.
Evolving hand-in-hand with scientific understanding of brain circuitry and technological advances in medical devices, neuromodulation and deep brain stimulation (DBS) use a pacemaker-like device to treat various neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, chronic pain and psychiatric disorders. These procedures can alleviate long-troubling and disabling symptoms. They also inspire great excitement in researchers.
Ali Rezai, MD, recognized this technology's promise in the early 1990s. Now a world-renowned expert in the field, his recent appointment to direct the new Center for Neuromodulation at Ohio State's Medical Center means OSU will play an important role in expanding these pioneering treatments.
"OSU provides a fertile and unique environment where I can work with numerous specialists as part of a multidisciplinary team to facilitate innovation and development of new therapies," he says. "There's enormous potential for the program."
French researchers, with whom Dr. Rezai trained, developed DBS in the late 1980s while looking for a way to mitigate the tremors caused by Parkinson's disease. The solution is basically a brain pacemaker that regulates abnormal brain electrical activity. Millimeter-thin electrodes, implanted in the brain with the assistance of computerized targeting, navigation and micro-robotics, deliver tiny electrical signals that block abnormal brain signals. A heart pacemaker-like device that powers the device is implanted in the patient's chest and is adjusted in the outpatient clinic. Established as a treatment for movement disorders, DBS is also being used for epilepsy and a variety of behavioral disorders such as depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Dr. Rezai believes it has more widespread applications and could potentially help patients with severe traumatic brain injury, addiction, eating disorders and autism.
Dr. Rezai and his colleagues at OSU are already investigating new clinical applications and developing future generations of the brain pacemaker, which include sensing and feedback capabilities.
For more information about Dr. Rezai and the Center for Neuromodulation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.