Master's Theses

Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Marom Bikson

Keywords

Brain Stimulation, TDCS, Electrodes, Headgear

Abstract

Stimulating the brain with a low current that is focused on specific regions of the brain has been shown to modify brain function and treat various neurological diseases. Transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) has been an effective and life changing alternative treatment for a vast range of neurological conditions including depression, epilepsy, stroke rehabilitation, addiction and chronic pain but only if it is administered correctly. During TDCS, a weak constant current is applied to precise locations on the scalp to modulate brain activity. Those locations can be determined by the cumbersome 10-20 EEG measurement system, transcranial magnetic stimulation or neuronavigation. These various methods require highly trained technicians, are extremely expensive, and magnetic stimulation and neuronavigation are not mobile enough to be done outside a clinical setting. After the time consuming routine of finding the locations for the electrodes, technicians then must perform a complicated multistep setup in order to setup the device, secure the electrodes to a patient’s head and start the treatment. Making TDCS simple and easy enough for a patient with M.S. to setup and administer treatment without the help of a caregiver can immeasurably increase the number of patients that are able to be treated with TDCS, researchers studying its effects and increase its efficiency. 3 Improving the design of the sponge electrodes and making a TDCS headgear that ensures the precise placement of the electrodes all while making the process and equipment simpler is one way to increase the use of TDCS. This paper discusses the background on TDCS and other brain stimulation methods and will explain how improving the equipment used for TDCS will make it easier, safer, cheaper and more efficient. A novel TDCS headgear was designed that has snap sponge electrodes that can be setup by a patient at home or their caregiver. The accuracy of the headgear was validated by testing repeated placements of the headgear and measuring the displacement of the electrodes from their predetermined positions. The data obtained from this study was then analyzed by computational modeling and it was determined that the headgear would be an ideal option for at home TDCS. The headgear has been adopted by many successful studies and may very likely be more accurate than the most widely used previous method of utilizing the 10-20 EEG System. This new method saves time, money, and increases the accessibility of treatment. It is also more accurate and replicable than a trained technician using previous methods. These updates to inadequate headgear permit the headgear to be used by disabled patients at home which will enable studies to include many more patients because of saved time and funding which will expand the number of patients treated by breakthrough technology and immensely improve the efficacy and reproducibility of treatment.

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