Duke University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences employs a coil positioning robot for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) at their Brain Stimulation Center.

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The SmartMove is a robotic TMS coil positioning system, developed by Advanced Neuro Technology (ANT) that closely follows slight head movements of the patient to precisely target the same spot in the brain..

From an ANT the press release:

ANT’s SmartMove System is a solution for field visualization and temporally accurate targeting within the subject’s cranium. The Visor Neuro Navigational system is included with ANT’s system as a component. Like other neuro navigational devices, the Visor allows for users to construct digitized 3-D brain models from a patients MRI or other brain image (i.e. fMRI, PET, CT, etc.). The Visor’s software allows users to actually see the depth, location, and shape of the magnetic field in relation to the subject’s brain in real-time, on a computer monitor. Users can use markers for target locations once they are identified (such as the dorsa-lateral prefrontal cortex for the treatment of MDD) which then can be imported into the SmartMove’s software. Using the SmartMove, the TMS coil can be accurately positioned over any preselected brain region. 

The robot ensures consistent targeting, regardless of movement by the subject, via motion-detection technology. Furthermore, a Researcher is able to pre-program multiple locations for stimulation, varying duration if they like as well. This particular feature will allow the researchers at Duke to set certain stimulation schedules or protocols to save valuable time. The ability to visualize the magnetic field, and continually pinpoint any given target opens up exciting new possibilities for the capabilities of the Researchers at Duke.

Researchers know exactly where they are ‘targeting’, but it is nearly impossible for any human to aim at a precise location of 1mm radius for more than an instant without the aid of a machine of some sort. Since subjects also move, the struggle for accuracy becomes compounded. For a computer and a robot, these tasks are much easier with proper programming and hardware.

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