Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trepanation as an Alzheimer's treatment?!

I found this rather baffling New Scientist article about how trepanation (drilling a hole in the skull to relieve pressure) may be a valid treatment for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
Maybe it's because I'm not a scientist (new or otherwise) but I know my dad's brain was atrophied.  Tiny.  Did not fill his skull anymore.  And in fact, that is why he did not die sooner from his two bad falls-with-brain-injury because there was plenty of room for his injured brain to swell.  So I'm confused as to why venting someone's skull when their brain is already tiny is going to help.
(Yuri Moskalenko) is exploring the idea that people with Alzheimer's disease could be treated by drilling a hole in their skull. In fact, he is so convinced of the benefits of trepanation that he claims it may help anyone from their mid-40s onwards to slow or even reverse the process of age-related cognitive decline.
As we age, cerebral blood flow decreases, and the earlier this happens the more likely someone is to develop early onset dementia. It remains unclear, however, whether declining cerebral blood flow is the cause, or an incidental effect of a more fundamental change.
As we age, the proteins in the brain harden, preventing this system from working as it should. As a result, the flow of both blood and cerebrospinal fluid is reduced, impairing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients as well as the removal of waste. Moskalenko's research suggests that this normally begins between the ages of 40 and 50. Moreover, in a study of 42 elderly people with dementia, he found that the severity of their cognitive disorder was strongly correlated with cranial compliance: those with the severest dementia had the lowest compliance.
Ack.  I'm going to be 41 in a couple of weeks.  Do I need my skull ventilated?!
I guess I am too fixated on the brain atrophy part of Alzheimer's (not mentioned at all in the article) to understand how opening the skull would help fluid circulate.
trepanation treats Alzheimer's
image source=article source
screenprint of article


Megan said...

Hi. I found your blog through Google. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last week. My family is devastated. He is 65. I've spent a lot of time reading your blog. Its brought a lot of comfort to me. I was wondering, would you recommend blogging the journey?

GBP })i({ said...

Yes, Megan I would. Even if you don't publicize it and don't get many readers, when it's all over it will give you a record of how everything happened. It's still painful for me to re-read some of this blog but someday I will sit down and read the whole thing again.
And I know my blog gives comfort to others along the same journey, which makes it feel like the pain I went through might be worth something after all.
Good luck, Megan.

Megan said...

Thanks so much. I'm going to begin a blog today.

GBP })i({ said...

Send me the link and I'll put it on my sidebar. Or just read it if you don't want many readers yet.

JP said...

Have you heard of Dr. Harold D. Foster, and the research he's done on Alzheimer's Disease? I am quite familiar with his work and I find it absolutely fascinating. In my opinion, it seems to be the most promising research available anywhere.

Lee McAlilly said...

Hi, I recently found your blog and wanted to reach out. I'm the blog coordinator for We're currently recruiting patients and experts to write a weekly blog post about Alzheimer's and I thought you might be interested.

Everyday Health has over 25 million monthly unique visitors to their website, and there is a lot of potential exposure and traffic to come from blogging with the market leader in online health information. It's also an excellent platform to promote awareness about Alzheimer's and any non-profits or other related entities.

Let me know if this is something that you're interested in and might like to talk more about.

Thanks so much!

Lee McAlilly

Blog Coordinator,

lmcalilly (at) waterfrontmedia (dot) com

Maddy said...

Hmmm well I think that's one 'treatment' that we'll pass thank you.