Brain pacemaker offers new hope for Alzheimer's patients
Dr. Richard Firshein weighs in
- Duration 4:30
- Date Dec 7, 2012
Dr. Richard Firshein weighs in
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Groundbreaking -- medical procedure that could help fight alzheimer's disease a pacemaker for your brain.
Doctors at Johns Hopkins University are the first to perform the surgery they have performed one surgery so far.
The goal is to stimulate the brain much like pacemakers do for the hearts.
What's exciting is our understanding of how memory works fits well with how this surgery might work -- were hoping to see.
He is improve memory and that people don't decline as fast as they would without the treatment.
Our guest doctor Richard first time he is the director of the first Chinese center for comprehensive Madison.
Thank you so much for joining yes so how -- should alzheimer's patients should be looking at this pacemaker procedure.
Well I think this is a breakthrough and you know what with what we're seeing right now one case of Johns Hopkins.
-- -- this implantable.
Pacemaker was put in 70000 people a -- had a similar type of pacemaker put in for parkinson's.
And their -- -- six patients who already had this treatment in Canada.
So this is a very very positive step in the right direction.
And it works by stimulating those areas of the brain.
We -- memories take place and we have a very good understanding we have those areas are so it simulates a different area of the brain -- the parkinson's patient.
Now it's a completely different area basically the hippocampus is are responsible for.
-- treating and creating a lot of memory is so what what these doctors are doing and it's very innovative.
Is -- basically drilling two holes in the brain placing wires deep into the brain where these particular memories are created.
And putting in a very small impulse of electricity about a 150 little pulses per second.
And that allows the brain to start to create different types of memories increase is what we believe -- glucose production very important.
For memory retrieval because without coach sugars where it's very difficult for the mind to actually create memories.
It's such a devastating disease that affects so many people 27 million I believe you said across the world.
And it -- devastating to the families as well.
What results are they saying I know that -- candidate -- done this for six patients as you mentioned what results have they -- we'll so far they are.
Seeing improvement in actual memory act the ability -- -- four Alzheimer patients to perform recall exercises.
In the early stages of dementia and alzheimer's the most common form of dementia very.
Sometimes very subtle and very difficult for people understand but it can be something as simple as.
You know feeling.
A slight memory loss not being able to retrieve names -- difficulty in social situations -- that progresses becomes much more severe.
What they're seeing these early cases is two things.
One on a primary level they're able to.
Improve recall and on the second level they're actually seeing increasing glucose metabolism.
That means the brain is functioning more efficiently so really just for people who are experiencing -- early onset of alzheimer's right now.
Not for people and later stages correct that this basically this is a study they gonna take forty people twenty.
We're gonna get the treatment early on another twenty were gonna get later on.
They -- people were going to be accepted into the study are only those who are at the earliest stages of alzheimer's because as time goes on.
The the the types of problems that occur the tangles that actually occur in the -- the plaques that form.
Are not reversible so the feeling is here.
We -- get people early we can actually reduce the incidence of alzheimer's but really the progression which is the critical phase and how long until we know.
That it works well they gonna perform this study for about a year.
And hopefully after that time when those when that research becomes available.
We'll know that this -- works you know right now there really is nothing that works effectively right -- from my patients who were concerned about alzheimer's who have family history and remember it's.
It is more incidental it's not something that's generally genetic north some genetic predisposition -- -- some genes that are.
Are important for alzheimer's.
But for those individuals were concerned there have been some studies that have shown that cognitive training means doing things that are active with your mind learning -- new language.
Not studying or playing -- being social and interactive has a very important fact exercise.
And a good diet Mediterranean diet -- also been shown to be hopeful right thank you so much we appreciate your insight hopefully -- that provided a lot of hope for some people absolutely thanking John.