Deep Brain Stimulation: A Future Alzheimer’s Treatment?

August 4, 2017 in Our News & Bulletins by Brio Home Health and Hospice

With the battle against Alzheimer’s ongoing, there has been much research into potential treatment options. One of the more promising has been deep brain stimulation, a practice used in the treatment of other disorders such as Parkinson’s. Deep brain stimulation involves therapy with electrical impulses directed at certain areas of the brain. These areas receive these impulses based on what benefit the doctor is looking for. Because of these benefits, the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, conducted a study to see if there could be any benefits for Alzheimer’s patients. The results were that, while there was potential, they needed further testing to make a conclusion.

They experimented on rats. Their prefrontal cortexes, the area responsible for higher mental function, received impulses set out from electrodes. They noted that the group of rats who received the treatment showed significant improvement in cognition compared to the control group. They also found that the rats who received the brain stimulation had new neurons forming. This result means that new brain cells can be created through deep brain stimulation. The thinking is that this could help patients improve memory as well as fight depression and anxiety.

Anecdotal evidence suggests this works in humans as well. In 2008. the same head researcher found that a patient of his experienced improved memory after receiving brain stimulation for another condition.

However, the results so far are inconclusive. It’s shown that deep brain stimulation appears safe but the effects might not be long lasting. Studies showed that, after a year, there wasn’t a significant difference in mental capability between those who received the treatment and those who did not. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope here. The research into deep brain stimulation and Alzheimer’s is still young. More testing needs to happen, and researchers remain optimistic about deep brain stimulation’s potential for treating cognitive disorders.

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