The direction of our current research was very much shaped by the feedback we received from individuals with tic disorders and their families.
When we asked them for their thoughts on our research priorities we were frequently told that what was really needed was a safe and effective non-drug treatment for tic disorder that could be used outside of the clinic and gave individuals control over their tics. This led directly to us focusing on the use of peripheral nerve stimulation as a means of bringing about changes in the brain networks associated with the production of tics.
We demonstrated that delivering rhythmic patterns of mild electrical stimulation to the median nerve at the wrist could be used to increase the power and the synchronicity of the brain oscillations (rhythms) associated with the suppression of movements, and that this type of stimulation was sufficient to dramatically reduce the frequency of tics and remove the urge-to-tic in individuals with tic disorders.
Importantly, we also showed that this type of stimulation did not materially affect the execution of volitional (intentional) movements or impair cognitive functions such as attention.
We are working on the development of a phone app that will monitor Tourette syndrome clinical symptoms over time as well as some external factors that may influence these symptoms.
We are developing this App with the aim to helping people with Tourette syndrome:
In research conducted at the University of Nottingham with the support of Tourettes Action, we demonstrated the beneficial effects of median nerve stimulation for reducing tic frequency and tic intensity in Tourette syndrome. This study was conducted with relatively few participants and we have now started a larger double-blind clinical trial.
We have now developed prototype devices to use exclusively in a clinical trial starting in 2022. The aim of this clinical trial is to provide more evidence of the beneficial effects of median nerve stimulation for reducing tics in Tourette syndrome. This study will include home administration of median nerve stimulation and will investigate any benefits of daily stimulation sessions.
In parallel to this trial, we are working on the development of a commercially available wearable wrist device that delivers median nerve stimulation at the press of a button with the aim to give people control of their tics.
We estimate the device will be available by 2026. As the device will be a medical device regulated by medical device regulations this takes time to develop and validate. In addition there is the time required to have the product tested by independent testing houses to ensure that the device is safe and compliant with the standards
Our research suggests that the stimulation is suitable for anyone over 12 years of age.
The UK-wide double-blind sham-controlled clinical trial of the Neupulse device for suppressing tics in Tourette syndrome run by the University of Nottingham showed that:
People who received active stimulation experienced a significant reduction in the severity and frequency of their tics. On average, they saw a reduction in tic frequency of more than 25% while they received stimulation.
After using the device for 4 weeks, people who received active stimulation experienced a reduction in their tic severity of more than 35%. In total, 59% of the people who received active stimulation experienced a reduction in tic severity of at least 25% compared to baseline.
The clinical trial investigating the effects of median nerve stimulation on Tourette syndrome and associated symptoms has completed recruitment and no more volunteers are required.
Unfortunately No. Our research investigating the use of median nerve stimulation to reduce tics in Tourette syndrome is a novel approach and there is currently no other clinical trials or similar research going on outside of the UK.
Most definitely. Our research team at the University of Nottingham is continuously conducting research aimed at understanding brain health conditions like Tourette syndrome and developing new treatment approaches. If you would like to volunteer to take part in these research studies, please take a look at the following link: