The world of neuroprosthetics seems to be nearing a tipping point, and neurosurgeons like Dr. Sameer Sheth and Dr. Guy McKhann from the Movement Disorders Center at Columbia University Medical Center are right in the thick of it.
According to the authors of an article, The Future of Brain Implants, published last week in the Wall Street Journal, we are at the start of an age of scientific innovation that will enable us to augment the brain in amazing new ways, from improving memory to perfecting our golf swing.
“Brain implants today are where laser eye surgery was several decades ago. Neuroprosthetics aren’t new. They have been around commercially for three decades, in the form of the cochlear implants used in the ears (the outer reaches of the nervous system) of more than 300,000 hearing-impaired people around the world. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first retinal implant, made by the company Second Sight.” —The Future of Brain Implants
For years, the neurosurgeons at Columbia have been using Deep Brain Stimulators (DBS) for the treatment of essential tremor, dystonia, and Parkinson’s disease. These are chronic neurological conditions that alter the motor systems in the brain. Many long-time sufferers of these conditions have gotten symptom relief with the implantation of a DBS device into the motor center of the brain. You can learn more about this treatment in our previous post, Parkinson’s Disease: Ready… Aim… Implant!.
Dr. Sameer Sheth specializes in the treatment of patients with Movement Disorders like these as well as certain Psychiatric Disorders, and he says that DBS is also now used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
“I think that the field of psychiatric neurosurgery is on the launching pad for rapid expansion, in terms of the conditions that we will be able to treat, as well as our understanding of the disorder in the underlying brain circuits,” says Dr. Sheth. “Patients with severe, refractory OCD, depression, addictions, PTSD, eating disorders, memory disorders, and other afflictions will be able to benefit from this technology in the upcoming years. Moreover, as we develop neuromodulatory interventions, we will also learn about how the brain functions in health and disease, a research dream of many neuroscientists, and the stated goal of President Obama’s BRAIN initiative. It’s a very exciting time for this field.”
Dr. McKhann specializes in the treatment of a variety of brain conditions including Brain Tumors, Epilepsy, Movement Disorders, Adult Hydrocephalus, Chiari Malformations, Cavernous Malformations, Trigeminal Neuralgia, and Neurotrauma. You can learn more about Dr. McKhann on his bio page here.
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