Engineering Improvements to Deep-Brain Stimulation

Achievement date: 

Better deep-brain stimulators that can use feedback from the brain itself in treating Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor are under development at the Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at the University of Washington.


In the long term, analysis of data derived from the deep-brain stimulators and monitors could give researchers at the CNT and elsewhere insight into how to make devices that not only suppress tremors but actually engineer changes in the brain for healing and restoration of function.


Deep-brain stimulation has been shown to improve the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. Implanted electrodes can deliver the healing stimulation deep in the brain, but serious challenges remain in knowing how much current should be delivered and when. CNT researchers are developing methods of collecting feedback from the brain itself.

CNT industry affiliate Medtronic, known for innovation and among the largest medical device companies in the world, is working with CNT researchers on the issue. Medtronic provided the research team with the Activa PC+S, an implantable prototype, which enables collection of a large amount of data and advanced research into closed-loop neuromodulation.