It’s Nearly Possible to “Shut off” Parkinson’s with a Flick of a Switch

January 25, 2017
By Benjamin Stecher, Futurism
  • With the insertion of a metal rod into the brain of participating patients, researchers have used deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson’s, and the tech is being looked at for use in Alzheimer’s patients.
  • There are also less invasive technologies available, such as the Neural Lace currently being worked on by a company run by Elon Musk.


Over the weekend I attended a brilliant talk by Dr. Andres Lozano at the University of Toronto. According to Reuters, he is the most cited neurosurgeon on the planet. Dr. Lozano has pioneered many of the techniques used in DBS (deep brain stimulation) and helped transform Toronto Western Hospital into a global hub for neurosurgery.

In another age, he would have been revered the world over as a miracle worker for having reanimated thousands of people suffering from a range of cognitive impairments through his surgical techniques.In DBS a metal rod is inserted into the patient’s brain, on the end of the rod are electrodes that get connected to a battery implanted into their chest cavity. After everything has been put in place, the device is turned on, and an electrical current gets sent that stimulates the neurons in the affected part of the brain.

It’s incredible to see the technique in practice. It is most commonly used in Parkinson’s disease patients in cases where traditional medication is no longer effective. At the flick of a switch, patients go from shaking uncontrollably and barely able to move, to suddenly being still, relaxed and in almost full control of their body.

But this is just the beginning of what this technique will be able to do. It has had promising preliminary results in Alzheimer’s disease patients and is being used to treat everything from depression and epilepsy to diabetes and bipolar disorder. Dr. Lozano also accidentally discovered that it can be used to bring back lost memories while he was trying to cure a patient of morbid obesity.

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