The Zoomer Report: Alzheimer’s and Brain Stimulation

There’s new hope for treating Alzheimer’s disease. A study out of Toronto Western Hospital suggests deep brain stimulation may help slow the disease’s progression in some patients.

It involves implanting electrodes deep in the brain, and linking them to a pacemaker-like device implanted under the skin on the upper chest. The electrodes give off electrical pulses which appear to trigger memories. Batteries for the unit last between four and five years, at which point they need to be replaced by cutting the unit out from under the skin.

There is already evidence that it probably wouldn’t be useful in patients who slipped from mild cognitive impairment to the moderate stage of the disease.
But the research published in The Annals of Neurology is showing enough benefit to proceed to bigger and better-designed trials.

Dr. Andres Lozano of the University Health network is recruiting about 50 people to get the stimulator, with half having it activated immediately and the others waiting about six months. None of the participants will know if theirs was activated.

It will be years before the outcome of that study will be known.

Photo © Jacob Wackerhausen

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About The Zoomer Report

Libby ZnaimerLibby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.

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