Researchers at the Texas Biomedical Device Center have developed a therapy to help neurological injury patients fully reengage in life. This therapy uses stimulation of the vagus nerve during rehabilitation to rewire neural circuits, dramatically improving recovery. We call this approach Targeted Plasticity Therapy (TPT). TxBDC researchers are at the forefront of investigations into neuroplasticity and its role in the development of a wide range of therapies for disorders such as tinnitus, chronic pain, stroke, traumatic brain injury, autism, PTSD, Alzheimer’s disease and peripheral nerve injury.
Rehabilitation activates weak neural connections. Vagus nerve stimulation releases chemicals in the brain that strengthen the active neural connections. By pairing rehabilitation with vagus nerve stimulation we can strengthen specific neural connections. In doing so, we rewire the brain and enhance recovery.
ACTIVATE: Rehabilitation activates weak neural connections
RELEASE: Vagus Nerve stimulation releases neuromodulators
REWIRE: Neuromodulators rewire neural connections
RECOVER: Strengthened neural connections enhance recovery
Targeted Plasticity Therapy can improve function irrespective of the type of injury. This figure shows Targeted Plasticity Therapy significantly enhances recovery following ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury and peripheral nerve injury compared to rehabilitation alone. READ MORE: utdallas.edu/txbdc/research
The Texas Biomedical Device Center has developed a wireless implantable device called ReStore that is used to deliver precise electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve during rehabilitation. This causes the release of neurotransmitters critical for learning and memory. The neurotransmitters strengthen the connections in the brain that allow you to complete a task. When vagus nerve stimulation is paired with traditional rehabilitation using the TxBDC home therapy applications below, patients can improve their recovery from almost anywhere. READ MORE
ReThink technology activates vagus nerve stimulation during exposure therapy to reduce the fear response in PTSD patients. The patient uses a smartphone app to listen to weekly recorded therapy sessions while receiving vagus nerve stimulation from the comfort of home. READ MORE
VIDEO: ReThink Technology for PTSD
for Upper Limb Recovery
RePlay technology guides recovery of hand function after a brain or spinal cord injury. This therapy, which can also be done at home, allows patients play fun and engaging video games which become more challenging as the patient improves. Hand movements are monitored as patients play the games, triggering stimulation of the vagus nerve. READ MORE
VIDEO: RePlay Technology for SCI
for Lower Limb Recovery
RePair technology guides the recovery of leg movements after a brain or spinal cord injury. The patient wears sensors on their legs to monitor movements and trigger the ReStore vagus nerve stimulator. This technology allows patients to improve leg movement using an app on their smart phone during normal daily activities. READ MORE
VIDEO: RePair Technology