Scientists are now starting the first experiments in the U.S. with brain pacemakers for patients of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are looking beyond just the use of drugs for new treatments that are desperately needed.
Research regarding brain implants has just started and just a couple of dozen individuals with Alzheimer’s at an early-stage will be implanted with the pacemakers in a few hospitals. There is uncertainty whether they will work, and if they are successful, the question will then be for how long.
One patient signed up, as an early stage sufferer of Alzheimer’s that was gradually becoming worse. She was still living independently but had to give up work, as medication ceased to work.
Then Ohio State doctors explained what they hope will work for her. Constant electrical stimulation of the circuits in the brain that involve thinking or memory, might maintain those networks active for a longer period.
The woman had the implant done a couple of months ago and said she feels good. She occasionally has a tingling feeling and said that is due to the electrodes. The electrodes are powered by a generator implanted near her collarbone that sends tiny shocks through her neck up to her brain.
She will be tracked for a full two years. This newest approach is called deep brain stimulation and between 80,000 and 100,000 people across the globe have electrodes implanted inside their brains for movement disorders including Parkinson’s disease.
Researchers are also testing to see if stimulating other areas of the brain could help depression or curb an individual’s appetite.