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article imageDeep brain simulation aims to treat paralysis

By Tim Sandle     Jan 9, 2017 in Health
A clinical trial involving a human implant has been completed. The device collects data to determine whether brain stimulation can restore motor function in stroke survivors.
The device has been developed by the company Boston Scientific and it is called the Vercise DBS system (DBS relating to a therapy called “deep brain stimulation”). The device collects information about deep-brain stimulation, which is a therapy being tested out for stroke survivors. The therapy is also being tested out for
The trial has been run at Cleveland Clinic's Neurological Institute. With the therapy, electrodes are implanted in the patient's cerebellum (which connects to the cerebral cortex). The electrodes provide small electric pulses to help people recover control of their movements. The research is considered important because one-third of stroke patients suffer with long-term motor deficits, severe enough to lead to permanent disabilities.
It is thought the therapy helps the brain to reorganize and to adapt beyond what physical therapy alone can achieve. Deep brain stimulation involves implanting a medical device called a neurostimulator (sometimes referred to as a 'brain pacemaker'), which sends electrical impulses, through implanted electrodes, to specific targets in the brain (brain nuclei) for the treatment of movement and neuropsychiatric disorders.
The therapy does not damage healthy brain tissue by destroying nerve cells. Instead the procedure blocks electrical signals from targeted areas in the brain. One theory as to how the therapy works is that it promotes the brain's ability to form new neural connections.
Speaking with QMed, lead researcher Dr. Kenneth Baker states: “We are evaluating the effects of therapy in patients who continue to have severe unilateral, or one-sided, weakness of the arm 12 to 24 months after their stroke.”
The patients will be evaluated for changes in arm and hand strength and function. For patients who recover sufficiently, they move onto physical therapy as part of their stroke rehabilitation program. The data is being reviewed and further trials are being scheduled.
In related news, British medial researchers have successfully used sonic waves to operate deep inside the brain of a patient. The novel treatment was used with a person who suffered from uncontrollable tremors in their hands.
More about deep brain stimulation, Paralysis, Implant
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