Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine have spent five years working on a non-invasive technique to treat traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other neurological disorders.
The research team believes the new technique will improve upon the current treatment provided to TBI patients.
Falls and motor vehicle crashes are the top two causes of TBI. A closed injury, caused by a bump to the head, may result in a concussion, which is a mild form of TBI, but the injury can also be much more serious. It can damage brain cells or neurons, which in turn may cause hyperexcitability.
A different path
The approach most doctors use today is to attempt to inhibit hyperexcitability. However, Indiana University researchers found that loss of brain tissue is the cause of initial damage to the brain. The nervous system works harder to compensate for the loss of function. Therefore, the research team developed a technique to stimulate rather than inhibit that activity.
The magnetic wave
According to a paper published in Neurotherapeutics, the technique uses a magnetic field to deliver magnetoelectric nanoparticles to a specific section of the brain. Then a magnetic wave stimulates the neural activity in that area. The technique is non-invasive, and researchers say it is effective for stimulating deep brain function.
A look ahead
Researchers believe the new brain stimulation technique will not only help TBI patients but those who are dealing with epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. Research is entering the next phase and the team hopes to begin studies with humans during the next two years.