Home > Medical issues, Technology, Treatment > Deep Brain Stimulation Moves Toward General Approval

Deep Brain Stimulation Moves Toward General Approval

Image courtesy Salvatore Vuono at http://www.freedigitalphotos.netSome of you may have seen a television show called “Perception.”  My husband and I discovered it last year, and have become big fans.  The show centers around a university professor who consults with the FBI to solve a different mystery every week.  What makes it unique is that the central character is a paranoid schizophrenic — untreated.  He has various hallucinations every week, usually of different people, who help him figure out how to solve the problem at hand.

Another interesting thing about the show is that the audience is introduced to some pretty cool neuropsychological concepts.  We learn about face blindness, Korsakoff’s syndrome, anterograde amnesia, and more.  Each week, our star diagnoses the person accused of this week’s crime, and helps figure out how to cure the person as well as solve the crime.  But it’s not at all a dry lecture on the workings of the brain; the developing relationships between the characters is truly well done.

The episode that my husband and I watched just the other night had to do with a topic that I’ve actually written about before on this site — deep brain stimulation.  This particular episode had to do with a famous violinist who had been implanted with a DBS device, to help him control the motor problems typical of that disease.  We also met a woman who had a device implanted to help her control an essential tremor in her hands.  Of course, there was murder and mayhem perpetrated to and by the scientists and patients involved in these two cases, and our heroes solved the case admirably.

This morning, I was quite surprised when I opened my e-mail to find a news article about deep brain stimulation.  I read about a new DBS system produced by a company called Medronic, which senses and records information from the brain, while simultaneously delivering therapy to control movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, essential tremors, and epilepsy.

The Activa PC+S system has not yet been approved by the FDA for commercial use in the U.S., but it has been green-lighted for investigational use by physicians.  The device will collect signals from the brain that will help researchers study neurological and psychological disorders, and hopefully learn how to treat them.  At present, doctors have to adjust the settings of DBS devices manually.  It is hoped that this new device, and others like it, will eventually be able to adjust themselves automatically to meet the needs of the patient.

The purpose of deep brain stimulation is to use a surgically-implanted device, akin to a pacemaker, to deliver mild electrical pulses to specific areas of the brain, in order to help control various movement disorders.  Other types of neurologically-based disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease) are also being investigated, to see how they may benefit from such treatment.

More than 100,000 patients have already benefited from implantation of Medtronic’s DBS devices, in various locations around the world.  The Activa PC+S device was approved for use by the European Union in January, and the first person to receive one was a person with Parkinson’s disease in Munich, Germany.

Many individuals around the world have benefited from the use of DBS therapy, in various locations around Europe and the U.S.  Most typically, patients are treated for various movement disorders such as advanced Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and chronic intractable primary dystonia.  It has been approved for the treatment of refractory epilepsy in Canada and Australia, and severe treatment-resistant obsessive compulsive disorder in the European Union and Australia — and in the U.S. under a humanitarian device exemption.

Read more at http://www.startribune.com/business/218666581.html?page=all&prepage=2&c=y#continue


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