A Device for Magnetic Stimulation of the Vestibular System

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Unmet Need
Vestibular disorders (dizziness, vertigo, imbalance) are ubiquitous problems in clinical medicine. They account for many millions of visits to physicians and therapists every year, and often produce prolonged physical and psychological disability leading to a loss of economic productivity and a high risk of falls and injuries. Like many other neurological disorder (such as stroke or trauma) treatment depends on exercise regimens, which for vestibular disorders must stimulate the labyrinth to promote recovery. Unfortunately, these physical therapy programs commonly lack scientific rationale and evidence of effectiveness and include a frequency of activity with which many patients cannot comply. A new technology to study the scientific basis of how the brain uses its learning capabilities to recover and compensate from vestibular damage, and how to apply this technology to the treatment of vestibular disorders is desperately needed. 

 Technology Overview
We have recently shown that strong magnetic fields, such as those of an MRI machine, can stimulate the inner ear labyrinth for hours at a time while a subject comfortably lies in the machine. Following on this discovery, we are developing a versatile, strong magnetic field device, specifically to excite different parts of the inner ear labyrinth, comfortably, for long periods of time. Initial design studies demonstrate that such a device can be practically realized, and we are seeking partners to enable production of the first prototypes. This device will dramatically enhance the scientific study of mechanisms of recovery from vestibular disorders and be used to develop effective and practical physical therapy regimens for treatment of unsteadiness and impaired vision that are associated with disabling dizziness, vertigo and imbalance. Other potential uses are scientific, including, for example, studies of vestibular perception, visual vestibular interaction and control of posture; therapeutic, including treatment of cognitive disorders such as neglect and spatial disorientation; and even entertainment, combining vestibular and visual stimulation much as in an amusement park ride.

Stage of Development
We are working towards building a first prototype.

Jareonsettasin, Prem et al.  "Multiple Time Courses of Vestibular Set-Point Adaptation Revealed by Sustained Magnetic Field Stimulation of the Labyrinth", Current Biology 26, 1359-1366, May 23, 2016.

Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
A Device for Magnetic Stimulation of the Vestibular System ORD: Ordinary Utility United States 15/668,896 8/4/2017     Pending
For Information, Contact:
Seth Zonies
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