Today's Debate: We're all just electrical impulse

Summary:DBS is already approved as a treatment for dystonia, for essential tremor, for Parkinson's Disease, and it's being examined in cases of severe clinical depression.

Deep Brain StimulatorYesterday's big story, the lead on the NBC Nightly News, was of course the use of a "brain pacemaker" to bring people out of deep coma.

Brian Williams expressed great amazement at this feat, called Deep Brain Stimulation, noting that hundreds of thousands may be "awakened" by it.

DBS is already approved as a treatment for dystonia, for essential tremor, for Parkinson's Disease, and it's being examined in cases of severe clinical depression.

A unit of Medtronic makes the devices (that's one shown) and provides a timeline on the technique.

While Williams was alluding to the Robin Williams film Awakenings, I'm certain some will be thinking of another classic film, Frankenstein. (Bleucher.) The scientific belief that electricity controls life is centuries old.

Ironically the DBS story blew a piece about replacing the battery on Dick Cheney's heart pacemaker right off the news. Again, we're talking about electric impulses extending life or bringing us back to a fuller life.

So how many patients might have their lives extended through simple electrical impulse? And what does that say about the nature of life itself?

Topics: Health, Hardware

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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