Scientists are hoping for the continued success of a new brain stimulation device that eases thousands of patients’ repeated discomfort. This stimulation device runs on breath and could eliminate the need for complex surgeries patients have to undergo only to get the batteries of existing devices replaced. Talk about one cumbersome battery replacement!
Science and other stuff to know
Surgical implantation of deep brain stimulation devices is becoming more commonplace as it has proven highly beneficial for people with neurological and psychiatric disorders. The device, consisting of two implants, one in the chest and the other in the brain, with connected electrodes, is beneficial for patients with dystonia, essential tremors, and Parkinson’s disease. However, a reliance on temporary batteries that have a two to three-year life has proven to be a challenge only surgery could address.
Up until now, that is.
A new study led by University of Connecticut scientists has now developed a self-sustaining stimulant device, thanks to its ability to convert the motion of a user’s chest into energy. “As the person breathes in and out, the chest wall presses on a very small and thin electric generator, called a triboelectric nanogenerator,” UConn Today reported.
The nanogenerator then turns the motion into static energy, creating a current that charges a supercapacitor; as a result, discharging the electricity to power the stimulant device. Esraa Elsanadidy of the University of Connecticut said the team “wanted to make this fit in with the rest of the available technology in the usual way.”
“In principle, if someone already has a deep brain stimulator, we could just replace the battery with this generator without having to retrofit them with a new device,” Esraa’s team member and UConn chemist James Rusling told UConn Today.
Deep brain stimulant devices are often called the pacemakers of the brain and provide crucial and potentially lifesaving support to patients with varied neurological health conditions. However, the need for constantly replacing batteries is not only a painful procedure that is also financially demanding; it also often acts as a deterrent for patients to get the treatment initiated in the first place.
Advancement of this technology and subsequent improvements could offer hope to hundreds of critical patients and offer them an improved life quality.
Scientists used a simulation of a pig and its breathing system to conduct initial testing of the autonomous system. The researchers now plan to test the device in a larger animal, and it probably won’t make it into people’s lungs for a while.
The technology would certainly be a breath of fresh air for those fearing the repeated surgeries associated with deep brain stimulants.