Gregory Welch, PhD, a computer scientist and engineer in the University of Central Florida College of Nursing in Orlando, is part of a team of inventors recently awarded a U.S. patent for a new method in deep-brain stimulation.
Welch, who last year was appointed the Florida Hospital Endowed Chair in Healthcare Simulation at the UCF College of Nursing, is a co-inventor on the patent along with Orlando neurosurgeon Nizam Razack, MD, and Richard Gilson, PhD, according to a news release, Gilson, a professor emeritus in the psychology department at the UCF College of Sciences, had the idea and led the
Deep-brain stimulation, a neurosurgical procedure used to treat Parkinsons disease and other conditions, involves the implantation of electrodes that emit signals to interfere with the neurons causing the tremors. Conventionally, the electromagnetic signals are broadcast equally in all directions, reaching both the offending neurons and healthy brain tissue, according to the release. The placement of the electrodes is challenging as the precise location of the offending neurons is not known, and the region from which the tremors originate may move in the brain over time.
The teams invention includes methods to electronically steer the signals to more places in the brain, more selectively, in order to deliver a more concentrated signal to the problem area while minimizing the impact on the surrounding brain tissue. If the region from which the tremors originate moves, a patient would be able to have the signals adjusted electronically by a neurosurgeon without additional surgery.