Electrical Engineering and MRI Imaging

Researchers are using diffusion MRI imaging and data analysis techniques to help understand the causes of tremors and to create a better means for pre-operative planning and postoperative evaluation of tremor patients.


Tom Fletcher, an associate professor with joint appointments in the departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science, is working with Dr. Jeffrey Elias, director of stereotactic and functional neurosurgery at UVA, to help tremor patients. Fletcher is using diffusion MRI imaging and data analysis techniques to help understand the causes of tremors and to create a better means for pre-operative planning and postoperative evaluation of tremor patients. Tremor disorders affect over 10 million people annually in the United States. Fletcher has already teamed with radiologists and technicians to recalibrate the MRI machine settings so the diffusion images are optimized to collect better data for planning and evaluation. In addition, when enough data is collected, he will have developed a type of brain map that could help customize care to patient groups who have similar brain imaging patterns. Fletcher envisions that future applications may go beyond pre- and post-op uses and provide real-time data for decision-making during surgery.