SHS Assistant Professor Adam Jacks, PhD Receives Grant

Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences Assistant Professor Adam Jacks, PhD, recently received a subcontract through a Small Business Grant (R44) to Soterix Medical Inc. from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

SHS Assistant Professor Adam Jacks, PhD Receives Grant click to enlarge Dr. Jacks works with a previous SHS student
The focus of the study, titled “Targeted transcranial electrotherapy to accelerate stroke rehabilitation – Exploratory trial on Aphasia,” is to determine the effects of targeted brain stimulation paired with behavioral treatment for naming impairment in adults with aphasia. Jacks will lead the UNC arm of the clinical trial, enrolling 30 adults with aphasia over a three year period. In addition to Soterix, other partners in the study include researchers at Georgetown University, The City College of New York (CCNY), and MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. The award will provide $330,000 to fund the UNC arm of the study.
The potential benefits of conventional transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) using sponge-pad electrodes have been demonstrated in small pilot studies for motor rehabilitation after stroke and the treatment of aphasia after stroke. However, conventional sponge-electrode montages lead to diffuse stimulation throughout cortex with less-than-optimal intensities at the desired target brain regions. In previous work, collaborators at CCNY and Soterix developed a more targeted implementation of tDCS, high-definition tDCS (HD-tDCS), tested it for feasibility, and piloted the technology in the clinical treatment of anomia in aphasic stroke survivors. The goal of this study is to determine if a Phase III efficacy clinical trial on aphasia treatment with HD-tDCS is warranted and to prepare the technology and regulatory process for such an event. In brief, the aims of the study are 1) to perform a double-blind, randomized, multicenter, sham-controlled clinical efficacy study to assess the short-term benefits of adjuvant HD-tDCS in the treatment of aphasia, and 2) to prepare the device hardware, targeting tools, and regulatory approvals for a pivotal clinical trial.
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