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Brain Implants Could Be Used to Treat Alzheimer’s

By Paul Lacovara, 9:00 am on

Each year, science inches closer to defeating Alzheimer’s. Brain implants are one of the latest breakthroughs, and they may be the key to curing Alzheimer’s once and for all. These prosthetics may help diminish the memory problems and personality changes associated with the condition. 

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior home care. Woodbridge families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

What Does Alzheimer’s Do to the Brain?

When a senior has Alzheimer’s, the neurons in the brain begin to die, which causes the brain to shrink, and the electrical signals that are integral to healthy brain function start to short circuit. Because the brain is no longer working at full capacity, seniors with Alzheimer’s become confused. They lose memories and undergo personality shifts. 

When a healthy brain creates a memory, an electrical signal is sent through the hippocampus. This area of the brain re-encodes the signal and passes it along to the areas of the brain responsible for long term storage. When a person has Alzheimer’s, the damaged hippocampus is incapable of translating signals in an appropriate way, preventing the formation of long-term memories. This is why some seniors with Alzheimer’s can access long-term memories encoded before their condition, but cannot form new ones.

How Do Brain Implants Work?

Dr. Theodore Berger, a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has been experimenting with brain implants for several decades. His implant can’t replace lost memories. However, it can help seniors create new memories. It may even increase their capacity to retrieve old ones. 

The chip works by imitating functional neuron signals. Alzheimer’s directly affects the area of the brain known as the hippocampus, and the chip forces this area of the brain to function in a healthier manner. Essentially, the implant speaks the brain’s language, which may make it an effective tool in the fight against Alzheimer’s.

Has It Been Tested?

The chip has been tested in monkeys and rats, and the results have been promising. Dr. Berger used a slice of living rat brain to show that his implant responds in a way that mimics real brain tissue. According to his research, there is no functional difference between the brain and the silicone implant. 

When Will It Be Ready for Human Use?

Scientists have spent decades developing prosthetic memory devices. It may take a few more decades before these implants are readily available to humans. If the results of future experiments go as planned, Dr. Berger believes the technology may be ready for human use in as little as 15 years. 

Dr. Berger and his team at USC hope to try the implant on humans within the next few years. They intend to install an implant in a person with a damaged brain region. In the experiment, they will send a translated signal to the brain to show brain damage can be effectively bypassed. If they are successful, it will allow the damaged brain to form long-term memories.

Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage without additional help. Families looking to hire a Woodbridge caregiver can reach out to Home Care Assistance. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers receive extensive ongoing training to ensure they provide the high-quality in-home care seniors need and deserve.

For many families in Woodbridge, CT, Alzheimer’s care is an essential component of helping their elderly loved ones remain healthy, safe, and happy in the comfort of home. From cognitive stimulation to help with tasks like meal prep, light housekeeping, and transportation, the caregivers at Home Care Assistance are the top choice for families who cannot provide the Alzheimer’s care their aging loved ones need and deserve. Call one of our Care Managers at 203-444-8575 to schedule an in-home consultation.

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