Posts Tagged brain surgery


Posted by on Sunday, 15 December, 2013

Humorous cartoon about a kid and his dad




You would be surprised how easy it is to hurt a brain.  It doesn’t take much. With babies, just a little shaking. With grownups, a single rough football game or a minor motorcycle accident with the helmet still nicely attached to the rack.

Who wears a helmet when it’s this nice, right?

The men and women who fight our wars for us know about brain injuries. A handmade explosive can rip away a soldier’s future permanently. Happens all the time.

Until now, the options were very limited for brain injured patients. But researchers from Case Western Reserve University/University of Kansas Medical Center have come up with something amazing.


Dr. Pedram Mohseni (Case Western Reserve) developed a “brain prosthesis” . A brain prosthesis is  an artificial thing which helps a brain work right. Dr. Mohensi’s device is a very small computer which can connect up parts of the brain that got disconnected because of an injury. It’s a bridge for the signals between the separated parts. The device uses powerful signal processing techniques to extract useful signals and then injects them where needed to “complete the circuit”. Although this may sound simple to an electronic hobbyist, this is several levels above “miracle” as far as medical science is concerned. It is amazing and startling and shocking and wonderful.

I’m not exaggerating.

Except – (good guess) – it’s the damn rats again. They have all the luck, don’t they? This has so far only been demonstrated on lab vermin. Experiments on lab animals are very important (although sometimes morally repugnant) but MISTER ScienceAintSoBad tries to “keep it real” with articles about things that are closer to the clinic or the drugstore. This research is remarkable though. How could I deny it mention? And a cartoon of its own.

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The drawing is mine. The kid, hopefully, is not.

COMMENTS: To leave a comment, click on “comments”. It’s just under this article’s headline (toward the right).


Parkinson’s Disease. Can It Be Stopped? Human Trials Now.

Posted by on Friday, 22 November, 2013
Funny Cartoon About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Treatment Now In Human Trials




Don’t get Parkinson’s Disease.

Here’s why.

Parkinson’s disease is when dopamine production in the brain falls off.  Dopamine, a “neurotransmitter”, helps to pass signals along the length of the nerves. When dopamine levels go down, people start to lose control over their movements.  Arms and legs become balky and hard to control. Even speaking can be hard. There’s other stuff too. Confusion, incontinence – a long list.  There are things you can do to make it more tolerable but there’s no cure.

Life’s a good thing. Even when it’s a miserable version of itself. But Parkinson’s does nothing to enhance it.

For about a decade, it has been possible to implant an electronic device, a deep brain stimulator or  (“pacemaker”) . The device stimulates the nerves – the ones that get screwed up in Parkinson’s –  getting them to perform better. The problem, (okay – other than the fact that this is brain surgery) is that the stimulator only helps for a while. Most people only see an improvement for a couple of years. Then it “wears off”.


Here’s the thing. Dr. Craig Van Horne (College of Medicine, University of Kentucky) has added something.  He takes a “spare” nerve from the ankle and implants it in the brain when the pacemaker goes in. Why do that? Because peripheral nerves can release neurotrophic growth factors – grow juice for nerves – which brain cells can’t. That’s why brain cells don’t regenerate. Dr Van Horne’s strategy, if it works in humans, would give the damaged nerves in the brain a chance to repair themselves.

What should we look for? Will the presence of a peripheral nerve with its release of growth factors give the deep brain stimulator more “oomph”? Will its benefits last longer? Is it possible that maybe the implanted nerve could replace the whole deep brain stimulator doohicky, allowing it to be turned off at some point?

We may not find out all this stuff right away. This is a “phase 1” trial. The main thing is to make sure the procedure to stick the nerve in there is practical and safe. However, if this trial is successful, there will be another.

It’s slow and frustrating. Too incremental. Besides. How could this ever be the ultimate answer. Brain surgery?

But it’s a step.

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The drawing is mine