Alzheimers and Brain Stimulation

There’s new hope for treating Alzheimer’s disease. A study out of Toronto Western Hospital suggests deep brain stimulation may help slow the disease’s progression in some patients.

It involves implanting electrodes deep in the brain, and linking them to a pacemaker-like device implanted under the skin on the upper chest. The electrodes give off electrical pulses which appear to trigger memories. Batteries for the unit last between four and five years, at which point they need to be replaced by cutting the unit out from under the skin.

There is already evidence that it probably wouldn’t be useful in patients who slipped from mild cognitive impairment to the moderate stage of the disease.
But the research published in The Annals of Neurology is showing enough benefit to proceed to bigger and better-designed trials.

Dr. Andres Lozano of the university Health network is recruiting about 50 people to get the stimulator, with half having it activated immediately and the others waiting about six months. None of the participants will know if theirs was activated.

It will be years before the outcome of that study will be known.

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