Scientists Identify a Unique Brain Signal to Treat Parkinson’s

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 15:39

Researchers from bionics researcher Hugh McDermott from the Bionics Institute in Australia, affiliated with the University of Melbourne have discovered lightning strikes that might affect the systems used for deep brain stimulation (DBS) in Parkinson’s patients and possibly the implants themselves, and particular safety measures should be taken.

DBS is a treatment option for people in advanced stages of Parkinson’s whose movement problems are not being helped by medications, and is used with other patients with similar unresponsive movement disorders, Parkinsons News Today reports.

During surgery, one or more wires, or leads, is inserted deep into the brain to reach affected areas. These leads are then connected to a pacemaker-like implantable pulse generator, or neurostimulator, that is usually placed in the upper thoracic region, just under the patient’s skin.

“Patients treated with DBS must always be instructed to immediately check the functioning of their IPGs if they detect deterioration in their symptoms, especially after encountering a strong external EMF,” the researchers wrote. “We also recommend that the IPG charger be plugged into a surge protector, which is an inexpensive electronic device, especially if there is a concern for high-voltage spikes.”

They added: “As a further precaution for patients with a Medtronic Activa RC, it is reasonable to recommend that the recharger be charged first and disconnected from the electrical outlet before being used to charge the IPG. We also advise all clinicians to regularly warn DBS patients to strictly follow the manufacturer’s safety recommendations and not to charge the recharger and IPG simultaneously during a thunderstorm.”

“The present case draws attention to the potential danger of lightning strikes as well as possible measures to reduce risk and avoid this danger,” Dusan Flisar, MD, and the study’s senior author, commented in a press release.

The research, “Lightning may pose a danger to patients receiving deep brain stimulation: case report,” appeared in the Journal of Neurosurgery.

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