Deep Brain Stimulation or DBS was introduced in 1987 and involves surgery to implant a neurostimulator into the brain of the individual who is suffering from movement or neuropsychiatric disorders. The operation involves drilling into the brain and inserting the neurostimulator into the specific area of the brain that may help to provide therapy when a disorder has been "treatment-resistant." The electrodes target the brain part and are stimulated by a pulse generator that is placed in the chest, much like a pacemaker for the heart.
Conditions that have been helped with DBS are such things as Parkinson's disease, dystonia, chronic pain, major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
CTV's W5 aired a program on DBS and its use as a treatment for anorexia nervosa on March 7, 2015. Dr. Andres Lozano heads the research team at Toronto's University Health Network and has used the technique to help desperate victims of the eating disorder. The two women showcased were so severely affected that the decision to have DBS was one of life or death. The surgery, itself, doesn't come with guarantees and someone in the weakened state that a sufferer of anorexia is, may die on the operating table.
Electrodes are inserted into the part of the brain that regulates mood and anxiety. The patient is awake for this part of the procedure and her feelings and observations help to make sure the neurostimulator is correctly located. For the second part, there is a general anaesthetic while the pulse generator is implanted into the chest.
DBS isn't magic and its results aren't immediate. The two young women still had to overcome their obsession with food and work at becoming "normal." For both of them, the eventual outcome was very positive and they "got their lives" back.
The pulse generator is turned on after about two weeks and the placement of the electrodes and the "dosage" of electricity act to modify brain circuits, either turning off those that are too active or stimulating those that are too slow. When all goes well, the errant brain is "normalized" and those patients who had all but lost hope were able to start to function again.
Just what the DBS is doing for sure isn't understood, but as more research is conducted this technique from 1987 may prove more and more helpful to people in untenable situations.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.