First U.S. Patent Implanted
November, 2012

During a five-hour surgery last October at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Kathy Sanford became the first Alzheimer's patient in the United States to have a pacemaker implanted in her brain. She is the first of up to 10 patients who will be enrolled in an FDA-approved study at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center to determine if using a brain pacemaker can improve cognitive and behavioral functioning in patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Dr Ali Resai
( Click His Photo To View His Mission)

Cathie's Story

The study employs the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS), the same technology used to successfully treat about 100,000 patients worldwide with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. In the study, researchers hope to determine whether DBS surgery can improve function governed by the frontal lobe and neural networks involved in cognition and behavior by stimulating certain areas of the brain with a pacemaker.

Before the Surgery
May 21, 2013

Dr. Douglas Scharre, neurologist and director of the division of cognitive neurology, and Dr. Ali Rezai, neurosurgeon and director of the neuroscience program, both at Wexner Medical Center, are conducting the study.

"If the early findings that we're seeing continue to be robust and progressive, then I think that will be very promising and encouraging for us," says Rezai, who also directs the Center for Neuromodulation at Ohio State. "But so far we are cautiously optimistic."

Cathie's Son Rob

The deep brain stimulation implant is similar to a cardiac pacemaker device with the exception that the pacemaker wires are implanted in the brain rather than the heart. "Basically, the pacemakers send tiny signals into the brain that regulate the abnormal activity of the brain and normalize it more," says Rezai. "Right now, from what we're seeing in our first patient, I think the results are encouraging, but this is research. We need to do more research and understand what's going on."

Previous To The Surgery

The study, which will enroll people with mild or early-stage Alzheimer's disease, will help determine if DBS has the potential to improve cognitive, behavioral and functional deficits.

Cathie's Daughter Lauren

Sanford continues to be evaluated to determine the effectiveness of the technology, says Rezai. She says she volunteered for the study to help others avoid the angst she has suffered as Alzheimer's slowly disrupted her life. "I'm just trying to make the world a better place," says Sanford. "That's all I'm doing." Her father, Joe Jester, says he is proud that his daughter is participating in the study, and is pleased to see her showing improvements.

Here We Go!

"This study seemed to just give us hope," said Jester. "I guess we were at the place where you just don't do anything and watch the condition deteriorate over the years, or try to do something that would give us hope and might stop the progression of this disease."

Hurry Up and Wait

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of degenerative dementia, afflicting about 5.5 million Americans and costing more than $100 billion per year, ranking it the third costliest disease in terms of health care expenditures in the United States.

Ann Abenti with Medtronics

Alzheimer's disease -- which has no cure and is not easily managed -- becomes progressively disabling with loss of memory, cognition, worsening behavioral function, in addition to a gradual loss of independent functioning, says Scharre.

The Alzheimer's study is scheduled to be completed in 2015.

The Next Morning - Ouch!

Neuromodulation is among the most rapidly growing and promising areas in medicine and involves the use of advanced neurological pacemakers and microinfusion delivery devices to deliver calming electrical signals, medications and other therapeutic agents precisely into the brain, spinal cord and the nervous system.

Cathie's Mother Barbara

In the United States, a growing number of neuromodulation procedures are receiving FDA approval and are covered by insurance.

These include:

1. Deep brain stimulation (DBS)/brain pacemakers for Parkinson's disease, tremor, dystonia and obsessive compulsive disorder.

2. Spinal cord and nerve pacemaker implants for chronic pain, epilepsy and urinary incontinence.

3. Microinfusion device implants for spasticity and chronic pain.

Erin Pfenning With Arden Courts

Welcome to Arden Courts of Bainbridge in Chagrin Falls, located on a beautifully landscaped area with enclosed courtyard and backyard with walking paths. Arden Courts provides a safe and pleasing home for individuals with memory loss. We are a residential living alternative designed for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other types of memory impairments. We offer the services traditionally associated with an assisted living residence, while taking into account the special needs of individuals with memory loss including safety, building layout, activities and dietary needs. We focus on meeting preferences, maximizing capabilities and fostering maximum independence. Professional assistance is available 24-hours a day. The center is designed with a simple layout and visual cues that help residents stay oriented and as independent as possible.

Four Days After The Surgery

DBS is a cutting-edge surgical procedure that can improve the quality of life and physical disability for persons suffering from neurological disorders. DBS involves neurosurgical implantation of tiny electrodes into the brain that are connected to a small battery-like pacemaker device implanted into the chest wall. The electrodes deliver tiny electrical signals that calm abnormal brain signals. The result is to alleviate long-troublesome disabling symptoms and restore patients to better functioning.