Brain Stimulation May Help Alzheimer's

TORONTO, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Deep brain stimulation shows promise for patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Canadian researchers say.

Dr. Andres Lozano and colleagues at Toronto Western Hospital conducted a trial of deep brain stimulation on six patients with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. All six left the hospital within three days of surgery, and continue to participate in regular follow-up cognitive assessments.

The trial, published in the Annals of Neurology, noted assessments show half the patients continue to perform better than predicted — their memory capacity improved or deteriorated less than expected.

“We showed that not only is this a safe procedure, but that the evidence is there to warrant a bigger trial.” Lozano says in a statement. “Any amount of time that extends quality of life and quality years to someone with Alzheimer’s may be a benefit.”

Lozano first discovered the potential for deep brain stimulation in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease while using it to treat a patient for obesity back in 2003. The procedure triggered memories in the patient and follow-up testing showed the patient’s memory improved.

Deep brain stimulation is a surgical treatment involving the implantation of a medical device — a brain pacemaker — which sends electrical impulses to specific parts of the brain. It has been therapeutic in those with Parkinson’s disease or chronic pain.

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