This morning I went to Surgery Grand Rounds. The speaker is the director for the Center for Neurological Restoration at CCF and is working on neuromodulators. Neuromodulators are "brain pacemakers" that are implanted into the patient’s brain or chest. These brain pacemakers are being used to provide deep brain stimulation for movement disorders like Parkinson’s Disease already, and they are being studied for other disorders like epilepsy, depression, OCD, anxiety, and addictions. The surgery targets the subthalamic nucleus, which has abnormal electrical function in Parkinson’s Disease. Once implanted, the pacemaker sends calming signals to the brain, and the tremor stops immediately. The speaker showed us several patients with and without the pacemaker turned on. One patient was an amateur athlete, and he was able to compete in a triathlon a few months after his surgery!
His newer work is on using brain pacemakers to treat some of the other psychiatric diseases that I mentioned, but I didn't get to see all of those applications because I had to leave for seminar. It was an incredibly cool talk, and I didn't want to leave. The seminar was a workshop covering how the immune system was regulated. It wasn't bad, but in retrospect I wish I had stayed to hear the end of the grand rounds talk.
The diagnosis was given for our PBL case patient today, so now everyone in my group believes me! My learning objective for Friday is about immunoglobulin E and allergic reactions. The subject came up because we were talking about Portuguese men-of-war during the PBL session. Some people hadn't ever heard of them: they are a type of tropical jellyfish that can give a very painful sting and cause allergic reactions in some people.