Deep-Mind Simulation (DBS) Is A Surgical Process That Controls Important Tremor

Essential tremor is a condition that affects 2.2% of the American population – approximately 1 in 25 adults over 40 and 1 in 10 over 75 years of age. It is very difficult and frustrating for such adults to have a cup of coffee without spilling or eating with a spoon. Essential tremor begins as a tremor in one hand and gradually progresses to either side of the body. They damage the cells that control movement, and when those cells begin to die or stop working, other cells in the brain randomly start shooting, causing tremors.

The tremor can be controlled thanks to deep brain simulation, a surgical procedure that prevents neurons from accidentally firing. DBS consists of two operations – the first to implant electrical leads and the second to install a pulse generator. The job of the pulse generator is to generate steady electrical impulses for specific areas of the brain. The impulses disrupt the spontaneously generated rhythms caused by the randomly firing cells, which can control the tremor.

Terri Benedix, an artist who specializes in flower painting, started trembling in 2013 and it got progressively worse. After meeting Casey Halpern at Stanford School of Medicine, she chose DBS and appeared at Stanford Hospital for the procedure in July 2020. The medical team drilled two holes in her skull to insert two electrical wires. Later, Dr. Halpern a recording electrode with an attached microphone to locate the tremor-inducing cells by sound. Once he found the right area, he inserted a stimulation electrode and asked Terri to draw a coil. She was able to draw a very recognizable spiral that made her cry! A few days later, Dr. Halpern in a separate operation the pulse generator directly under your collarbone. With the pulse generator activated, Terri could draw a straight line and a spiral, sign her name, stretch her arms to the side, apply mascara, and put a cup of water in her mouth. Soon after, she was texting her family on the tiny keypad on their phone! It is estimated that activating the Pulse Generator reduced Terri’s tremors by 90%.

Dr.  Halpern works with Terri in the hospital.  Two other people sit and watch.

Dr. Halpern implants around 40 of these devices annually to help patients with essential tremors.

Watch the video below to learn more about DBS and how Terri works. Do you know someone who is trembling? Would you recommend this practice to them? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Stanford Medicine

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