Quackery Exposed: Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery

Deep brain stimulation is an elective surgical procedure that is performed by a neurosurgeon implanting electrodes in certain areas of the brain. These electrode deliver electrical impulses that regulate abnormal brain impulses. The impulses can also effect certain cells and chemicals in the brain. 

The electrical impulses are controlled by a pacemaker device that is impacted in the skin in the upper chest. There is a wire that travels under the skin and connects to the electrodes in the brain. 

The electrode or lead is a thin insulated wire inserted through a small opening in the skull and implanted into a specific area of the brain. 

The extension wire is also insulated and passed under the skin of the head, nick and shoulder, connecting the electrode to the internal pulse generator (IPG). 

This procedure also involves a series of evaluation, procedures and consultations before and after the surgery. This is an expensive endeavor, depending on the patients insurance. 

This is only for people who aren’t able to be helped with medication. This is not for people who are effectively treated with medication. 

Approved by the FDA to treat:

  • dystonia
  • epilepsy
  • essential tremor
  • OCD
  • Parkinson’s disease

Being studied as a potential treatment for:

  • addiction
  • chronic pain
  • cluster headache
  • dementia
  • depression (major)
  • Huntington’s disease
  • multiple sclerosis
  • stroke recovery
  • Tourette syndrome
  • TBI


Surgery Risks

Deep brain stimulation involves creating small holes in the skull to implant the electrodes and surgery to implant the device that contains batteries under the skin of the chest. 
  • misplacement of the lead
  • bleeding in the brain
  • stroke
  • infection
  • breathing problems
  • nausea
  • heart problems
  • seizure

Side Effects After Surgery

  • seizure
  • infection
  • headache
  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating
  • stroke
  • hardware complications
  • temporary pain and swelling from the implantation site. 

Side Effects of Stimulation

  • numbness or tingling sensations
  • muscle tightness of face or arm
  • speech problems
  • balance problems
  • lightheadedness
  • vision problems, such as double vision
  • unwanted mood changes, such as anger or depression
According to Mayo Clinic,”Deep brain stimulation isn’t successful for everyone. There are a number of variables involved in the success of deep brain stimulation. It is important to talk with your doctor before surgery about what type of improvement you can expect for your condition.”

DBS and Autism

A Columbia University neurosurgeon by the name of Dr. Sameer Sheth thinks it may be useful in treating autism. He cowrote an article for the Journal of Neurosurgery where they examine the possibilities of using DBS on autistic people. Specifically people “with severe autism.” They think because it is used with OCD, it would be appropriate for autism. 
They base this theory on their theory that autistic children’s amygdala grows at an abnormal rate. This is true. Autistic people have 11% more neurons in the amygdala than neurotypical people do. The amygdala is a group of neurons inside the brain that is part of the limbic system. It is the shape of an almond. The limbic system helps to regulate emotions and social interactions. It helps processes emotions such as fear, anger, and pleasure. It also distributes memories to different parts of the brain. 
Dr. Sheth and his colleagues believe targeting at the amygdala could bring “relief to patients suffering from severe autism symptoms.”
Even if this did work, would the risk be worth it? There would not be a neurosurgeon willing to even test this on children. If an IRB would approve such a study, they would need to recuse themselves because they would not be thinking of the safety of the children in order to attempt to make their parents lives more convent. The parents who would consent it should have an open CPS case and be investigate for abuse and neglect. If they subject their children to this, they care more about themselves than their children. Autism is genetic and people need to accept that and accept autistics for who we are. 

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