[Dixielandjazz] Great news on dystonia

Charlie Hooks charliehooks at earthlink.net
Thu Apr 17 10:40:21 PDT 2003


    ABC Morning show featured a story this AM about a young man suffering
from a very rare form of dystonia that affects the entire body (not merely
the focal dystonia afflicting brass players like Dan Havens).

    There is still no cure, but now the symptoms can be controlled
electronically by implanting wires and tiny batteries under the skin.  The
effect in the featured instance was almost magical--instant relief, a life
given back, symptom-free.

    Someone figured out that the dystonia results from nerve cells in the
brain firing too rapidly and causing the muscles to clinch; the treatment is
to control the neurological misfiring with a kind of pacemaker device that
involves placing tiny wires into that specific portion of the brain causing
the disturbance.   The procedure involves no damage to brain tissue, so that
when (if?) a cure is discovered, the wires can be removed.

    The tricky part is to find that needle in the cranial haystack, the
exact group of cells out of a billion or so, that is misfiring, and to
direct the electronics to that area.   But doctors have learned to insert a
microscopic microphone and listen to the nerve cells firing: yes, they make
an electronic noise, and identify themselves.  It worked in the instance
featured on ABC this morning.   Whether it will also work in treating focal
dystonia--a condition of the embraschure--is a question not posed this
morning, but surely is worth pursuing.

good luck, guys!

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