Deep Brain Stimulation – Throwback

deep brain stimulation

Today’s Throwback is from July 2008.

Let’s take a look at some government grants spent over the last several years:

  • $750,000 for the Baseball Hall of Fame (I like baseball, but geesh)
  • $70,000 for the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame in Appleton, Wis. (We’re planning a family reunion in Appleton just so we can all experience this exiting museum). I just love paper.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency for spending an extra $1 million to $1.2 million in 1980 to preserve a Trenton, NJ sewer as a historical monument. (I can’t add anything clever. This one speaks for itself.)
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities for a $25,000 grant in 1977 to study why people cheat, lie and act rudely on local Virginia tennis courts. (Simple answer: the people that do that are jerks)

And my personal favorite:

  • In 2001 more than $600,000 in tax money was spent on researching the sex lives of South African ground squirrels. (oooh, I hope I can get pictures.)

Why do I bring this all up? Because you’ve seen me bitch on here about some of the stupid studies regarding mental illness, such as a recently study to determine that those who are depressed commit suicide more than others.

Finally, I found a study that seems worth it’s weight in gold. The article appeared in Medical News Today. A study was conducted by scientists at the University of Toronto (God Bless the Canadians) on patients with treatment resistant depression who underwent Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). DBS uses high-frequency electrical stimulation targeted to the specific areas of the brain involved in neuropsychiatric disease (Doctors sure like big words).

In the study 20 patients received DBS for 12 months. 12 out of 20 experienced a significicant decrease in depressive symptoms by 6 months, with 7 patients essentially well with few remaining symptoms.

The way it works is by implanting 2 thin wire electrodes in the brain (one on each side). The other end of each wire was connected under the skin of the neck to a pulse generator implanted in the chest – similar to a pacemaker. Only patients who were unable to get better with most other types of antidepressant treaatment were included in the study.

The study will be further conducted by Emory University, which also will seek to determine if the same effects can be reached with those who have bipolar II.

I doubt anyone is thrilled with the idea of having wires in their brain that run down their neck, but I think this will be a godsend for those who have been untreatable for major depression. It’s high time to see a study that actually is doing something to help those who have mood disorders rather then spend money on researching the obvious. I don’t know how long or how much the depression/suicide study was, but they could have asked me and I would have told them with one word “Yes” for only 5 bucks. OK, so if I knew there was a major grant behind it, I would have asked for a $100.

Note: Since I published this in 2008, I know one person who is treated by a DBS. It looks exactly like a pacemaker and he considers it a life saver.

16 comments on Deep Brain Stimulation – Throwback

    1. Yes. I thought so. It scares many people because they think of it as being like the old style electric shock therapy, but it is different and has benefitted many people

      1. actually the same can be said of new ect as well. not at all the brutal thing it once was. have also heard of ‘deep vagal nerve stimulation with implant of some kind in brain. can’t remember details atm tho.

  1. Recently I watched a documentary on PBS about bipolar disorder I’m blanking out on the exact name but it was something to do with the Tiger…riding the Tiger!! it was really interesting, and they had a segment about a woman who got deep brain stimulation. There were interviews with cutting-edge researchers about DBT and other treatments. if I had the link I would share it here, but I’m speaking this comment into my phone in my car!

  2. I’m extremely thankful that electroconvulsive treatments worked for me, and I didn’t need that kind of treatment, but if it saves lives that’s fantastic!!!

    1. I’m glad electroconvulsive treatments worked for you. I know of others who it helped save their lives. It’s funny with physiology how what works for one person may not work for another.

  3. Hi Bradley

    Interesting you mention Deep Brain Stimulation. I watched the surgery performed on a women. I’ve had Brain Surgery but this technology is amazing.The procedure starts with removing part of top skull. Doctors are touching sections of the brain while asking questions.Truly amazing.

    I have technology in my chest, a Vagus Nerve Stimulator. Two connectors are clamped to my Left Vagus Nerve in upper neck, Connectors are snaked down with the leads connecting to the device.

    I have over 20 ECT Treatments, ECT isn’t what you think, The technique has dramatically changed in 50-75 + years since introduced.. There is a post in Archives sharing my experience with ECT and exactly what happens at UTSW from the minute you come in the door.

    Insurance.rejected me. Time to fight for my life. I explained how I’ve struggled since a child, what future looks like without new technology.Explaining with out more help, I would die. .Approved!!!

    What’s next? Ketamine? DBT? Mushrooms? I have several articles you might have read onTED Ideas.

    I’ve been lazy not taking the time to write with any detail. One of my challenges.

    Glad you posted the information, part of the stigma is learning more. M

    1. I’m glad you fought and won. It’s easy to be intimidated by the insurance companies and, sadly, many give up. Things like these make me think of my mom who experienced old style electro shock therapy and then kept doped up on Valium. If only the technology and meds were available back then.

      I’m glad ECT worked for you and many others. I look forward to checking out your articles.

    2. I completed a series of 37 TMS treatment in January. So disheartened that I haven’t experienced ANY changes in my mood. I was so very hopeful…..

      1. Some treatment takes longer to kick in. Try to keep moving as fast or slow as you know. I have a VNS device, the few people before me and during the trail had the greatest to say. Not all treatments work on everyone. Don’t let a disappointment stop you for look at other treatments in eluding the newest drugs.
        Thank care. 🙂

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