A Pacemaker for the brain? Could it battle Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
It’s still in the experimental stage but Canada has already performed six surgeries to implant the pacemaker. Their results as of now, appear to be positive, though it has only slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s for those in the earliest stages.
Until now, our only hope has been Alzheimer’s medications which generally did little to curb the progression of Alzheimer’s if not taken in the earliest days. My mom was well into an advanced stage when first given the Alzheimer’s drugs and I saw no noticeable difference in her behavior or progression when they were finally added.
Since experimenting with medications has not given the desired results and failed to cure or stop the progress of the brain damage of Alzheimer’s or dementia, doctors have begun the search for a new method. This new experimental device (pacemaker) is inserted in the chest, wires are run beneath the skin to the skull and then deep into the brain to deliver an electrical stimulation.
Dr. Paul Rosenberg, a dementia specialist says, “What is exciting is our understanding of how memory works fits well with how this surgery might work.”
It’s similar to an implant used to help those with Parkinson disease. The Doctors at Johns Hopkins were the first to perform this surgery in the United States.
With the brain pacemaker, “…we are hoping to see improved memory,” said Dr. Rosenberg. “And that people don’t decline as fast as they would without the treatment.”
Still, there continues to be a search for new Alzheimer’s medications as well. If the new studies succeed, a medicine that slows or even stops progression of the brain-destroying disease might be ready in three to five years, said Dr. William H. Thies, chief medical officer of the Alzheimer’s Association. The group assists patients and caregivers, lobbies for more research and helps fund studies.
Would you be willing to try the pacemaker? My mom passed away 4 years ago, but I have to wonder, now, if I would have encouraged her to try it. I’m not sure.