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The world's first tiny brain implant is designed to help those with Parkinson's disease

by Shailee Mishra

Date & Time: Apr 30, 2022 1:00 PM

Read Time: 2 minute



Highlights

• (DBS) the device was utilized by surgeons to reverse aberrant brain-cell firing patterns
• Tony Howells, the first person to receive the treatment

In a world-first, doctors in the United Kingdom implanted a device into a patient's brain to reverse the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Surgeons at Bristol's Southmead Hospital used a tiny deep brain stimulation (DBS) device to override abnormal brain-cell firing patterns caused by Parkinson's disease, according to the BBC.

Tony Howells, the first person to receive the treatment as part of a trial

Tony Howells is the first person to receive the treatment as part of a trial, described its effects as "amazing. Twenty-five patients have been chosen for the trial, which will be completed next year.

"I went for a walk with my wife on Boxing Day before the operation and got 182 meters from the actual car. I had to turn around and return because I couldn't walk "Howells, who underwent the procedure in 2019, was quoted as saying.

"Then, 12 months after the operation, I went back on Boxing Day and we went for 4km, but we could've gone further. It was incredible "he continued.

There is currently no cure for Parkinson's disease, which causes parts of the brain to deteriorate over time. Involuntary shaking of parts of the body, slow movement, and stiff and inflexible muscles are all symptoms.

The new DBS system is the tiniest ever built.

It consists of a small battery system for the device, which then sends electrical impulses to specific areas of the brain. To do so, electric probes are inserted through the skull and deep into the brain's center, into the subthalamic nuclei.

It only takes three hours to complete the new operation, which is roughly half the time it used to take with the larger battery.

"You don't realize how frustrating (Parkinson's) is until it happens to you," Howells explained. "Just tying your shoelaces is a major operation... it has a huge impact on your daily life."

According to Southmead Hospital neurologist Dr. Alan Whone, the system may be more beneficial to children than the elderly, according to the report.

If you're older, or if you have memory problems as part of your Parkinson's, this would not be appropriate for you." But if you're a younger person with Parkinson's who can have brain surgery and so on, it becomes much more applicable to that group." If the treatment is approved by the medical regulator, the number of people who could benefit from it could be doubled.

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