The Dean Center for Tick Borne Illness engages in collaborative, translational research that investigates therapeutic treatment options for tick borne illnesses, with an emphasis on Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS).
Study 1: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Cognitive Deficit, Fatigue and Pain in Patients with Persistent Symptoms Related to Borreliosis
This study is researching the effects of a cutting edge brain stimulation device to help improve nutrition and healing of the brain tissue in patients with fatigue, pain and cognitive defects related to brain injury from Lyme Disease. Event though we do not yet know all of the reasons for the brain injury – the researchers stipulate it can include ongoing inflammation, autoimmunity and/or persistent infection. In all of these cases, the brain is injured, and requires a tool that will help in its recovery used as either a standalone treatment or in combination with other therapies.
This study is designed to address the critical need of effective strategies to reduce symptom burden in individuals with suffering from chronic symptoms following an infection with Lyme Disease. This pilot study specifically focuses on evaluating whether or not a Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS, described below) intervention is helpful in reducing cognitive deficits, such as memory loss, thinking ability, depression, as well as fatigue and pain - in individuals with chronic symptoms following Lyme Disease infection.
A tDCS is a device placed on a patient’s head, and has been used in the past to effectively treat migraines. It is a noninvasive brain stimulation technique that involves the application of weak electrical currents to the brain. Similar noninvasive techniques have been tested for safety and tolerability, and tDCS was found to be well tolerated. This research continues the effort to evaluate the potential benefits from tDCS as a treatment option for chronic conditions such as the disabling symptoms related to Lyme Disease.
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Pathogenesis of Neuroborreliosis and Injury to the Nervous System
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation in Neurorecovery
Why Can Lyme Be Chronic – Columbia University Medical Center
Study 2: Effect of Iyengar Yoga on Symptom Burden and Inflammation in Post Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome - A Pilot Study
This pilot study specifically focuses on evaluating the feasibility and efficacy of an Iyengar Yoga (IY) intervention for individuals with persistent fatigue. Additionally, the research aims to examine the effects of an IY intervention on musculoskeletal pain, memory and concentration difficulty, and the presence of inflammatory biomarkers such as cytokines.
Cytokines are small proteins in the body that participate in cell-cell signaling. Cytokines are secreted by the immune system and can trigger the release of even more cytokines. An increase of concentration in inflammatory cytokines can lead to an imbalance in the body, leading to inflammation. Cytokines will be measured in research subjects at the beginning and end of this study. The goal is to observe a decrease in the number of proinflammatory cytokines (ones that cause inflammation) and an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines (ones that inhibit inflammation).
Iyengar yoga is a traditional form of Hatha yoga that focuses on poses and breathing techniques for individuals with specific medical problems and conditions. Some of these postures are believed to be effective at reducing fatigue among women with a history of breast cancer, and they have even been used to reduce inflammatory cytokines that are found in cancer survivors who are persistently fatigued. Key postures include passive inversions and passive backbends. In these passive postures the body’s shape is supported with props rather than the strength of the body, allowing participants to perform without stress or tension. The postures will be introduced slowly and gradually become more challenging over the course of the treatment. Breathing techniques will also be taught.
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Study 3: Development and Validation of Novel Tools for Clinical Evaluation of Patients with Lyme Disease at All Stages
This research activity is focused on developing and validating tools for improved clinical exam and symptom monitoring in patients suffering from Lyme Disease. This novel tool will help clinicians be able to hone in on the deficits frequently seen in Lyme patients with a specialized exam that will expose these deficits. Unless specifically examined, these findings can otherwise be overlooked and the patient can appear in good health, which is currently a limiting factor in proper clinical diagnosis. The symptom checklist focuses on typical multisystem effects of this tick borne infection and assists in clinical diagnosis, treatment response monitoring and longitudinal data set collection for better understanding of illness impact on quality of life and disability.