Parkinson's Movement

brain stimulation, no surgery, noninvasive Parkinson's therapy called transcranial direct current stimulation

The students were referred to Yousef Salimpour, a Johns Hopkins Medicine postdoctoral research associate who has been studying a noninvasive Parkinson's therapy called transcranial direct current stimulation. In this painless treatment, low-level current is passed through two electrodes placed over the head to tweak the electrical activity in specific areas of the brain. The technique can be used to excite or inhibit these nerve cells. The treatment is still considered experimental, but it has attracted much attention because it does not require surgery and is inexpensive, safe and relatively easy to administer without any side effects.

The biomedical engineering students met with Salimpour to learn about the research he conducts in a clinical setting. "We told him we had an idea for a portable home version of this equipment," Rajan said. "But we planned to add safety measures to make sure the patient used it properly without a doctor or nurse being present."

The students aimed for a prototype that would enable a patient to activate the battery-powered treatment by touching a large easy-to-press button. With patient safety in mind, the students designed their prototype to deliver current for only 20 minutes daily and only at a doctor-prescribed level.

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With help from the Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures staff, the student inventors obtained provisional patents covering the design of the device, dubbed the STIMband. Another Johns Hopkins student team is slated to take over the project in September to further enhance the design and move it closer to patient availability. One addition may be a wireless connection to allow a doctor to adjust a home patient's treatment level from a remote location.


Read article on STIMband brain stimulator on this site


I've been waiting for this to happen. Why can't they pinpoint areas from outside the head?


Hi RoyProp, thank you for all of your informative and helpful posts. Just yesterday there was an article about treatment for depression in our local paper. It is called Transcranial magnetic stimulation and has been remarkably successful for patients with long standing depression. It sounds similar to the treatment you have referenced. It is done at Butler Hospital in Providence RI. I wondered if it would have any benefits for parkinsons patients. The web site for Butler is The paper that published the article is The Providence Journal.


Yeah, unfortunately an inexpensive method of using a $20 TENS unit (electrical application with two pads to stick to skin used in physical therapy) at home without the need for medical supervision instead of digging into the brain with surgery is not going to be researched very well because you have to get FDA approval to advertise non-surgical approaches, and such a simple and effective idea can't be patented to gain a monopoly on the market so that you can charge $2,000 for the TENS unit in order to pay back the investment made and risk taken to get FDA approval. Surgery does not require any scientific proof or FDA approval because it is usually very difficult to do comparisons to non-surgery (control case). The average application of heart surgery or chemotherapy does not increase lifespan and they have known and published this in the medical literature for decades, but some people are helped for a short period. Chemotherapy usually gets around FDA approval process by always being a new drug they are testing and the cancer victims are made to feel good and hopeful about participating in new research even as they know it's not really different from past failed attempts. Deep brain stimulation for PD actually uses a device that is not pre-approved like an external TENS units, so it needs FDA approval even though it involves surgery. The surgery does not need FDA approval, but the device does. I do not know if there is any process for "approving" surgeries. Often a useless idea is turned into useless surgery, then the inventor does bad research, gets it published as if it is good data, and then becomes the expert and teacher of the surgery, training other surgeons for profit and increasing his reputation in the field for inventing more work surgeons can do in cases that previously could not generate any profit due to no available treatments. It then take a decade or two for a more reputable surgeon to debunk the whole idea and then another decade for surgeons to stop doing it. True story! I made money helping to debunk one type of useless and even harmful surgery, then a lawyer got involved taking cases from all over the country (after seeing my writings) and having the condition himself, and so he really killed the idea and got some patient reimbursements for the cases that got a lot worse from a very stupid idea. Then I accidentally got involved in promoting a different type of useless surgery. It required people from other countries to get involved in order to debunk it.


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