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Electrical Stimulation of the Brain


Overview :

Electrical stimulation of the brain, or deep brain stimulation, is effective in treating tremor in up to 88% of Parkinson disease patients. An electrode is implanted into the thalamus (part of the brain) of the patient, and attached to an electric pulse generator via an extension wire. The pulse generator is implanted into the patient's pectoral, or chest area, and the extension wire is tunneled under the skin. The pulse generator sends out intermittent electrical stimulation to the electrode in the thalamus, which inhibits or partially relieves the tremor. The generator can be turned on and off with a magnet, and needs to be replaced every three to five years.

Similar methods have been used to treat chronic pain that responded unfavorably to conventional therapies. A remote transmitter allows these patients to trigger electric stimulation to relieve their symptoms on an as-needed basis. Patients with failed back syndrome, trigeminal neuropathy (pertaining to the fifth cranial nerve), and peripheral neuropathy fared well for pain control with this treatment, while patients with spinal cord injury and postherpetic neuralagia (pain along the nerves following herpes) did poorly.




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