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"Brain pacemakers" have been working wonders with people who suffer from epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and other diseases. The pacemaker is a medical device that sends electric impulses into the brain. Depending on where the impulses are sent, the treatment is called deep brain stimulation, or vagus nerve stimulation. Both stimulations may aid in the treatment or prevention of these unfortunate diseases.
Epilepsy is categorized as any of the various neurological disorders characterized by sudden recurring attacks of motor, sensory, or psychic malfunction with or without loss of consciousness or convulsive seizures. Epilepsy is not classified by one single problem, but rather a large amount of problems. Depleting motor skills and seizures are the main problems. There are two types of seizures that are from epilepsy. The partial seizure is more common and found in one or more specific parts of the brain. These seizures are likely to develop from certain injuries, but for most cases they are unknown in origin. (A.D.A.M Inc,) The generalized seizure typically occurs in both parts of the brain and is genetically based. Most of the time there is normal neurological function in the brain. With the placement of pacemakers in the brain, it may control or eliminate epileptic seizures with programmed or responsive stimulation. (A.D.A.M Inc,)
On the other hand, a patient with Parkinson's disease can use a brain pacemaker as well. The deep brain stimulation of the pacemaker will help symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement, and walking problems. The procedure also treats essential tremor, a neurological movement disorder. Once the pacemaker is surgically put in the brain, electrical impulses are sent from the stimulator through the wires and into the brain. These impulses interfere with and block the electrical signals that cause Parkinson’s disease symptoms. At present, the procedure is used only for patients whose symptoms cannot be controlled with medications.
Another problem the pacemaker may help is clinical depression. The electrical stimulation to the brain can eliminate chronic depression if other treatments are not working. People tend to feel an immediate improvement in mood and in their sleeping habits. CG25, also known as the “sadness center” in the brain, is speculated to play a major role in sadness and mood. People with depression have too much activity in that certain part of the brain, which causes minor to major depression. "We thought that one strategy might be to go in and try to turn down the activity in these areas and to see whether that would have any benefit," said Dr. Andres Lozano, a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital. (CBC News) Since surgical procedures always carry a risk with not knowing what is going to happened as an end result, psychiatrists stipulate deep brain stimulation will only be an option for the serious cases of depression. (CBC News)
Deep brain stimulation or Vagus nerve stimulation, which actually comes out of the brain pacemaker, is a surgical option for people with Parkinson’s, epilepsy, depression and other diseases. This way of “curing” the symptoms is a new technique compared to the older way. The old surgery consisted of the surgeon destroying small parts of the brain called the thalamus or globus pallidus. The surgery that is done now implants a piece of thin lead with four electrodes in the brain. Once the electrode is planted in the brain, pulses of energy try to block the abnormal activity, which causes the symptoms. The lead then is connected to a small extension wire that is hooked up to the pacemaker under the skin in the chest area.(Cleveland Clinic 03) With the brain pacemaker, it is no longer necessary to do the old routine surgery to try and fix the problems and symptoms. The advancement of deep brain stimulation surgery is contiguously related to finding the specific area in the brain for stimulation.
All in all, brain pacemakers are helpful to many people with serious diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. The pacemaker tends to eliminate certain symptoms of these diseases. Pacemakers are being used only if the symptoms are rather severe and if medication cannot tame the symptoms. Pacemakers have, in a whole, improved the medical health field. New treatments, such as the deep brain stimulation, are being found. These treatments are aiding in reducing symptoms in a certain disease. One may have the enlightening thought that the brain pacemaker could be a cure for a certain disease.
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