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Although deep-brain stimulation (DBS) can be used to improve some of the severe symptoms of Parkinson's disease (e.g., Bradykinesia, rigidity, and tremors), the mechanisms by which the symptoms are eliminated are not well understood. Moreover, DBS does not prevent neurodegeneration that leads to dementia or death. In order to fully investigate DBS and to optimize its use, a comprehensive long-term stimulation study in an animal model is needed. However, since the brain region that must be stimulated, known as the subthalamic nucleus (STN), is extremely small (500 μm×500 μm×1 mm) and deep within the rat brain (10 mm), the stimulating probe must have geometric and mechanical properties that allow accurate positioning in the brain, while minimizing tissue damage. We have designed, fabricated, and tested a novel micromachined probe that is able to accurately stimulate the STN. The probe is designed to minimize damage to the surrounding tissue. The probe shank is coated with gold and the electrode interconnects are insulated with silicon nitride for biocompatibility. The probe has four platinum electrodes to provide a variety of spatially distributed stimuli, and is formed in a novel 3-D plating process that results in a microwire like geometry (i.e., smoothly tapering diameter) with a corresponding mechanically stable shank.
Date of Publication: May 2005