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Mar 21, 2017 11:46 AM EDT

Deep Brain Stimulation Might Be The Key To Curing Psychiatric Disorders


Deep brain stimulation is a new and radical alternative to treating neurological disorders and debilitating diseases. While fairly new compared to other treatments, it has shown some promise and further studies are done to fine-tune the treatment.

Deep brain stimulation is a neurological procedure where tiny, needle-like electrodes called neurostimulators are placed inside the different areas of the brain. These electrodes release electrical impulses that regulate the abnormal activities in the brain. These impulses can also affect certain brain cells and chemicals.

The electrodes are controlled by a tool which is similar to the pacemaker. However, a new tool called Harmoni is presently in development at the engineering department of the Mayo Clinic. The department, headed by Kevin Bennet, has been developing existing medical instruments or create new medical devices. Working along with Bennett is Dr. Kendall Lee, a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic as well as a team of engineers and researchers at the Neural Engineering Laboratory of the institution.

Unlike the existing brain stimulation devices, Harmoni has sensors that automatically tunes and recalibrates the brain every time the cells start behaving abnormally or stop communicating properly with each other. The brain stimulation device has a wireless monitor that keeps track of all the brain activities in order to provide real-time adjustments in the brain stimulation process.

Bennett and his team hope that with a more targeted approach, the brain stimulation device will not just cure neurological and debilitating diseases but also a new class of psychiatric disorders which, until now, are only treated with prescription drugs.

Bennett said that these drugs are not really cures but only provides a temporary relief top the patient. With Harmoni, they are offering an alternative treatment that does not rely on drugs, which can result in decreasing the patient's dependency on such types of drugs.

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