Brain implant could halt Alzheimer's brain damage via electrical stimulation

Ohio State University researchers are testing a brain implant that they said could dramatically slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
By Rick Docksai | Feb 12, 2018
Alzheimer's patients may be able to preserve their cognitive functions and remain independent longer with a new brain implant that is undergoing testing at Ohio State University. The Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) device, according to an article published in The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, could not stop the disease's progression but did appear to slow it in three patients who had it surgically implanted.

"The pilot study found that DBS targeting frontal brain regions can reduce the overall performance decline typically seen in people with mild or early stage Alzheimer's," said Douglas Scharre, a university neurologist and study co-author.

The DBS device uses electrical currents to stimulate parts of the brain's frontal lobe where decision-making, learning, problem solving, and judgement occur. Scharre and colleagues surgically implanted the device into three Alzheimer's patients and monitored them for two years, during which the three patients and 100 others who also had Alzheimer's but did not receive the implant did repeated tests that mimicked daily tasksthe researchers wanted to see how well each patient could navigate them as their disease progressed.

The device improved communication between regions of the brain, according to the researchers, who said that all three implant recipients showed a greatly reduced rate of brain-function deterioration compared to the other patients. One implant recipient, 85-year-old LaVonne Moore, is still able to dress herself, make simple meals, and decide what she will do on a given day. She can also still change her plans depending on the weather. The researchers said that these tasks are normally impossible for someone at her stage of Alzheimer's.

 

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