Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical therapy used to treat many neurological disorders that are refractory to medication. Patients with severe Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, essential tremor, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression have all benefited from DBS. The therapy involves implanting small electrodes in brain regions that exhibit pathological activity, and then stimulating those regions with continuous pulses of electricity. One of the ongoing challenges with this therapy is how to best minimize damage to brain tissue during the electrode implantation process.
Ben Teplitzky and Allison Connolly, student researchers in the group of Assistant Professor Matt Johnson (Biomedical Engineering), presented a poster at the 2012 MSI Research Exhibition on a project developing DBS electrodes that can be implanted within arterial and venous vessels of the brain. With the support of MSI resources, the Johnson group has developed three-dimensional models of the cerebral vasculature and coupled them with computational neuron models of DBS. These models now enable researchers to prospectively evaluate and optimize electrode geometries and targeting strategies for endovascular deep brain stimulation, as shown in the figure above.