I've been thinking about the wiring in my brain - a lot.
It's kinda hard to ignore when you have a neurotransmitter (and associated battery) parked underneath your collarbone, wiring running all over your head + lumps where the probes sit - but I digress.
I was thinking of the marvel of medical science that now makes it a reasonably routine procedure (albeit with it's attendant risks). Back in the 50's and even into the 80's patients with movement disorders were "lesioned" (whereby parts of brain are destroyed) but the downside was the process was non reversible and patients sometimes ended up worse off. Then in the late 80's it was discovered that the same effects caused by lesioning brain tissue could be achieved by stimulating the tissue with harmless pulses of electricity. This was an exciting find, because the effects of electrical stimulation are completely reversible. In fact, when the stimulation is turned off, the brain resumes its normal behavior. Similar to drug treatments, doctors could tailor the electrical stimulation to fit the exact needs of each patient. Unlike drug treatments, the electrical stimulation could be localized so that only intended parts of the brain were affected.
Treatments with deep brain stimulation (DBS) were used on an experimental basis for several years, and positive treatment results were observed. In 2002, the use of DBS for conditions such as Parkinson's disease was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). DBS remains the standard treatment for several brain disorders similar to, and including, Parkinson's. Approximately 20,000 people have had DBS worldwide.
Recent advances in the delivery and control of the electrical field that stimulates the brain are positive developments as it can be a fine balancing act because too much stimulation can cause side effects like loss of voice.
I am certain that in 100 years time they'll look back and say
"They used to perform neurosurgery on PD patients. How old school was that?"
But its the best of the best in 2015 - and old school is pretty cool with me.