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Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Posted by Janice on October 19, 1999, at 22:25:20

Hi everyone,

I was in Hawaii last week and happened to stumble upon this article about using vagus nerve stimulation to treat untreatable depression. It definately seems like a completely new approach to me. I will retype parts of the article for you, as I don't have a scanner.

Stimulating a nerve that runs from the neck into one of the brain's most mysterious regions appears promising enough at relieving once-untreatable depression that the government just granted permission for a study at 15 hospitals around the country. The treatment, called vagus nerve stimulation, involves sending tiny electric shocks into the vagus nerve in the neck, where it then relays messages deep into the brain. About half of the 30 depressed patients treated in a pilot study - people who had failed every other treatment - "got a very good response"...The stimulator is essentially a brain pacemaker. A generator the size of a pocket watch is implanted into the chest. Wires snake up the neck to zap the nerve every few minutes. Two years ago, the Food and Drug Administration approved the implant to treat severe epilepsy, a way to signal the brain to reduce seizures...doctors began reporting the epilepsy patients felt happier even if the implant failed to reduce their seizures.

It's also seems to be good for enhancing memory and controlling appetites of obese people.

Interesting, yes? I'm not certain as to whether you can locate this article through the internet, but it was on page A14, Tuesday, October 12 in the Star Bulletin, Honolulu, Hawaii. Janice




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