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Many neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease, chronic depression and other psychiatric disorders could be managed at home, thanks to a collaborative project involving researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ). Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) Professor Peter Silburn AM said his team, in collaboration with Queensland Neurosciences and Abbott Neuromodulation, have developed a remote care platform that allows patients to access treatment from anywhere in the world.

The professor noted that by creating the world’s first integrated, completely wireless remote care platform, the team has removed the need for patients to see their doctor in person to have their device fitted.

Electrodes are surgically inserted into the brain and electrical stimulation is delivered by a pacemaker that alters brain function, providing therapeutic relief and improving quality of life. This digital platform allows clinicians to monitor patients remotely, as well as adjust the device to treat and relieve symptoms in real time.

The team’s research has shown that disruption to the lifestyle of patients and caregivers can be minimized by increasing accessibility to the service, which saves time and money. There is no cure for many of these conditions which often require lifelong treatment and care, so for these people the device would be a game changer.

The system has also fostered increasingly personalized treatment and data-driven clinical decisions, which could improve patient care. He noted that during the study, the team established the safety, security, usability and effectiveness of the platform and optimized its functionality using patient feedback in a bio-design process.

In the first few weeks of a limited release, the team conducted 858 remote care sessions and maintained a robust and high success rate. While the team started working on this digital health solution before COVID-19, the pandemic has increased the need for remote care platforms, especially for the elderly and those living in remote areas with increased mobility difficulties.

Thanks to the pandemic, patients have become familiar with telemedicine and are much more willing to adapt to platforms that connect them to their care teams remotely, Professor Silburn said. The researchers are confident that the technology could be adapted to many other conditions in the future.

As biomarkers of brain-related disorders are discovered, neuromodulation systems will be refined to improve the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anorexia and Gilles de La Tourette, to name a few.

The digital health platform for remote neuromodulation systems has obtained regulatory approval and was launched in Australia in October 2021. It has also been adopted in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration Service and the European CE mark.

Professor Silburn and Professor Pankaj Sah, Director of QBI, and Associate Professor Terry Coyne will present a series of information sessions for patients and carers living with Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, essential tremor and Tourette in regional Queensland in the coming months.

Telemedicine Market was valued at around just over US$104 Billion in 2021, and it is projected to reach around US$272 Billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 20.5% over the forecast period 2022-2027 .

Telehealth has become an essential component of healthcare following the COVID-19 pandemic. Research from 2020 found that during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, physical distancing was implemented to minimize the spread of coronavirus disease. This has resulted in the adoption of telemedicine for most outpatient oncology appointments.

While telemedicine services were integrated into most healthcare systems even before the start of the pandemic, the services only started to be widely used during the COVID-19 crisis. This is primarily attributed to a lack of in-person visits and travel limitations and restrictions, which has encouraged clinicians to adapt telemedicine-based consultations even further during the pandemic. Thus, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a significant positive impact on the growth of the telemedicine market across the globe.

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