Treating Parkinson’s at a Price
Recently, Dr. Rolf Gainer forward me a news article by AP writer Lauran Neergaard about brain implants being used for Parkinson's patients–and it brings up interesting implications in brain injury treatment.
The electronic implants are supposed to suppress the Parkinson's palsy in patients, but the procedure comes with a nasty side-effect. Implanted patients are becoming more and more impulsive, and research suggests that the implant interferes with their ability to learn from bad choices. The result is that implant recipients may have reduced tremors, but they could develop gambling habits or other maladaptive behaviors.
The conundrum poses a challenge to neurosurgeons–what is the cost and loss of neurological treatment. Just how dangerous is it to disrupt normal brain activity? I, for one, plan to keep a close eye on the ongoing debate.