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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 01/23/09
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Drake Center Signs Agreement to Study Navigated Brain Stimulation

CINCINNATI—Drake Center has signed an agreement with Nexstim Oy, a Helsinki-based medical device company, to study the benefits of using Navigated Brain Stimulation (NBS) in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of a patient’s recovery following stroke.

The Nexstim NBS device will initially be used in a Drake-sponsored study to determine how the brain’s potential to transmit high quality signals to a stroke patient’s muscles might be used to better assess prognosis and the success of physiotherapy during post-stroke rehabilitation.

“We see enormous potential for the use of Navigated Brain Stimulation in the field of neurorehabilitation,” says Kari Dunning, PhD, director of research at Drake Center and assistant professor of rehabilitation sciences at UC’s College of Allied Health Sciences. “Nexstim offers us a truly innovative non-invasive technology which we believe in the future may be able to guide our treatment, measure the effectiveness of our treatments and provide another tool for treatment in our studies.”

The technique, Dunning says, “gives us a picture of what’s still working and what’s not” in the brain after a stroke. Armed with that knowledge, she adds, therapists will be better equipped to develop rehabilitation strategies.

Nexstim’s NBS device gently stimulates precise areas of the human cortex of the brain while simultaneously measuring the effect of stimuli on the central nervous system and the peripheral nerves responsible for movement. Stimuli are given by a small electromagnetic coil which is guided over the head very much like driving a car with GPS. By loading the system with a standard MRI brain scan, an operator can precisely locate the area to stimulate.

The patient sits in a reclining chair wearing a special pair of optically-tracked glasses. No patient effort is required, and brain mapping generally takes less than an hour.

“Drake Center and its association with the University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences provides a unique setting and interdisciplinary approach to research the effectiveness of this device with stroke inpatients and outpatients, as well as to work with both clinicians and researchers who are nationally known leaders in the field of stroke rehabilitation,” says Jukka-Pekka Särkkä, managing director of Nexstim.

Drake Center is a leading provider of specialized medical and rehabilitative care in the Ohio region and is part of the Health Alliance, an integrated health care delivery system that also includes University Hospital, Jewish Hospital, Fort Hamilton Hospital, West Chester Medical Center and the physicians of Alliance Primary Care.

The Nexstim NBS device has been used for research in Europe and Asia for five years. However, Drake Center will be the first inpatient rehabilitation hospital to use it for clinical research. There are only two other research labs in the United States with the device: the National Institutes of Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.

Because the device does not currently have FDA approval, it will be used exclusively for research at this time. This will be the first time it is used to study the potential of translating research results into clinical use.

Dunning has no financial interest in Nexstim Oy, which is partially funding the study along with Drake Center.

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