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A Self Tuning Brain Implant is Introduced to Help Treat Parkinson’s

Posted by on June 5th, 2018

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“Grandpa Tears Up.” by Tim Doerfler via Unsplash, March 11, 2018, CCO.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that impacts body movement.  It impacts almost 2% of the population, most commonly occurring in those 60 years of age or older.  According to MedlinePlus, Parkinson’s occurs when the brain doesn’t produce enough dopamine.

Parkinson’s disease symptoms can vary by individual and oftentimes early signs are overlooked. Typically, symptoms originate on one side of the body but as the disease progresses, both sides of the body will be impacted.

Parkinson’s signs and symptoms may include:

  • Tremor
  • Slowed movement (bradykinesia)
  • Rigid muscles
  • Impaired posture and balance
  • Loss of automatic movements
  • Speech changes
  • Writing changes

There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s but there are options to help lessen the severity of symptoms.  In addition to medicine and/or surgery, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is also a treatment option for those with severe symptoms.  DBS involves electrodes implanted in the brain that send electrical pulses to stimulate parts of the brain that control movement.

A new study supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Technologies (BRAIN) Initiative and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) takes a different approach to DBS.  The newest stimulator uses feedback from the brain directly.  Previously, a trained clinician would have to manually make adjustments to the DBS programming.

Additional studies are being planned.  “The novel approach taken in this small-scale feasibility study may be an important first step in developing a more refined or personalized way for doctors to reduce the problems patients with Parkinson’s disease face every day,” said Nick B. Langhals, Ph.D., program director at NINDS.

Click here to learn more.

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