Pacemakers in the brain to control Parkinson’s disease

Pacemakers in the brain to control Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s disease continues to disrupt the normal lives of many people. To control this disease, there are benefits to inserting electrodes into the brain. The ability to adjust according to disease symptoms makes this technology more realistic.

At only in his mid-40s, Tim Seidel received a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Tremors do not go away, despite heavy doses of medication. Deep brain stimulation is now his only hope. During the operation, he must be alert and active, even talking. During the operation, the surgeon will insert electrodes deep into the brain.

A day ago, he went out for a walk. I have no fear of the operation. There is only hope to get rid of this situation. Tim Seidel described his condition, saying, “I’m shaking.” It’s not because of the cold; it’s the body’s vibration. Handwriting is getting worse; I can’t do anything in my free time, and it’s hard to go out to eat with my wife.

He also said that after the first talk, many people thought, Maybe I can’t even count to three. They try to explain even simple things to me.

He also had to cut back on his work due to Parkinson’s. Travel has stopped due to work. There is no question about participating in the marathon. The drugs he is taking to treat the dopamine deficiency caused by the disease also keep him under control, but they also have side effects.

Specialists at the University Hospital of Tübingen have many years of experience with deep brain stimulation. One advantage of a brain pacemaker is that it allows for the adjustment of its gentle electrical pulses multiple times. If the disease becomes more severe or the symptoms change, the brain pacemaker can be adjusted accordingly. Recently, smartwatches have measured vibration, circulation, sleep, etc. to quickly detect that change.

“Now you can see the hand, which is moving,” said Alireza Garabaghi, a specialist at Tübingen University Hospital. Researchers are recording precisely this small movement of the hand. It’s more like long-term monitoring.’

Doctors have performed this operation on the brains of thousands of Parkinson’s patients worldwide. It is possible without any bleeding. A small incision is made in the scalp to insert the electrodes.

Skilled hands must perform the remaining work after planning based on computer tomography images. Electrode placement should be confirmed by taking measurements in the operating theater.

Alireza Garabagi said, ‘It is already possible to get continuous information with the help of digital technology. We have come to know about the variations at different times of the day. In the morning or in the afternoon, I get an idea of whether the situation is better or worse. I can also find out whether a patient is benefiting from a new setting on a medium- or long-term basis.’

Tim Seidel is benefiting from therapy. He will be in the hospital for another eight weeks for adjustments as needed. As a urologist, Daniel Weiss first turned off his brain pacemaker and grimly observed the symptoms of the disease. Press the button to stop the vibration.

Tim Seidel describes his own treatment experience, saying, ‘It happens in a matter of seconds. Switching on or off causes the effect to be felt immediately. There is no need to wait as long as tablets. I feel very good. This treatment has worked.

Best of all, he won’t have to go to the hospital as often in the future. Because it will be possible to change the setting of his brain pacemaker remotely from home.

I had to take less medicine in the last few days. The vibration has also been greatly reduced. His implanted pacemaker is being controlled by the hospital. The hospital has arranged by strict data protection laws.

Neurologist Daniel Weiss stated, ‘We can now proceed with this.’ Today we are increasing the stimulator slightly again. I can do that with this remote connection. Let’s see what happens.’

Sending electrical impulses to the brain through the telephone was considered science fiction until a few years ago. Thanks to this technology, Tim Seidel has his old life back for now.

 

Source: Deutsche Welle

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