Slowing Alzheimer’s Disease

By Alexander Pan

Alzheimer’s disease is the most prominent form of dementia that affects over five million people in the United States. Currently with no cure, the disease progressively degenerates people’s cognition in terms of behavior, memory, and judgement. Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a surgical implant, resembling a cardiac pacemaker device, for the brain of Alzheimer patients intended to maintain cognitive, functional, and behavioral abilities for a longer period of time. The deep brain stimulation (DBS) is surgically implanted into the brains’ frontal lobes of Alzheimer patients. These electrical wires slow down the progressive symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Unlike most Alzheimer’s treatments that focus on retaining memory, the DBS aims to maintain the decision-making and problem-solving cognitive abilities of these patients. The brain’s frontal lobes are responsible for judgement and problem-solving. Therefore, stimulating this part of the brain would prevent the rate of decline of such abilities in Alzheimer patients. In one case, before treatment, Alzheimer patient LaVonne Moore was unable to prepare meals and lacked basic cognitive functions. However, after treatment, the patient was able to prepare meals, select clothing attire, and organize an outing. Further investigation into this treatment can improve its effectiveness at slowing down the rate of Alzheimer’s disease. Although no cure is shown in the foreseeable future, researchers continue to investigate the disease and improve its treatment options. 

 

Douglas W. Scharre, Emily Weichart, Dylan Nielson, Jun Zhang, Punit Agrawal, Per B. Sederberg, Michael V. Knopp, Ali R. Rezai. Deep Brain Stimulation of Frontal Lobe Networks to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 2018; DOI: 10.3233/JAD-170082

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (2018, January 30). Brain pacemaker study shows promise in slowing decline of Alzheimer's: Patients with surgical implant retain functionality longer, improve quality of life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 9, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180130123656.htm