There may finally be some hope for people suffering from debilitating illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a whole host of other crippling maladies. Deep brain stimulation (DBS), which involves surgically inserting a metal rod into a patient’s brain and activating electrodes at the end of the rod through a battery inserted in the chest cavity, stimulates the neurons in the portion of the brain related to Parkinson’s disease.
As a result, the patient goes from shaking uncontrollably to a relaxed state in which he or she is able to control many bodily functions again. In fact, according to Dr. Andres Lozano, the man who pioneered DBS, the method can even help patients recall long-lost memories.
For patients who are uncomfortable with the idea of having a metal rod inserted in their head, other potential methods exist. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is still currently under development, involves attaching high-powered magnets to the patient’s head and transmitting electromagnetic currents that stimulate neurons within the affected space.
Both methods are part of a new branch of medicine called neuromodulation, which, according to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, helps boost cognitive abilities. As this branch develops further, it is not inconceivable that patients will be able to walk into a clinic, receive a brain scan, and then have their problems fixed by using neuromodulation. In fact, this technology may even be used for moving objects. For example, neural prostheses have been invented that allow patients to move robotic limbs simply by thinking about it. This, of course, has incredible implications not just for the field of medicine, but also for society as a whole.
To go even further, imagine being able to link the brain with the Internet of Things, and thus be able to control not only devices and objects at home, but also directly share knowledge with other people halfway across the world. The possibilities are indeed nearly limitless once we have harnessed the true power of DBS, and one thing is for sure: once we have crossed that bridge, human life will never be the same again.