Tiny device in brain controls involuntary muscular spasms | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Tiny device in brain controls involuntary muscular spasms

mumbai Updated: Apr 09, 2010 01:03 IST
HT Correspondent

Prathamesh Tathare (27), a data processor at a printing press in Dadar, has many dreams for the future. He plans to open his own hardware and photocopy shop next month.

But barely a year ago, Tathare could not even drink water without spilling it or walk in a straight line.

The Mahim resident suffers from tardive dystonia, a neurological disorder characterised by involuntary muscular spasms that sometimes leave the patient in awkward, twisted postures.

But life changed after a tiny device was implanted in his brain last May. Neurosurgeon Dr Milind Sankhe implanted the device during a complex surgery at Mahim’s PD Hinduja Hospital.

The device supplies electric currents to certain areas of the brain and helps arrest the signals causing involuntary movement.

“This therapy had been available in India since 2000 but we got to know about its efficacy only after reading a media report,” said his father A.M. Tathare.

Dr Sankhe said that though one in every 1 lakh Indians suffers from dystonia, hardly two to three such procedures are performed in the city each year.

“There is little awareness so people don’t know this surgery can help them. The cost is also a deterrent,” he said.
The surgery costs around Rs 6.5 lakh and the procedure for replacing the battery (which lasts for three to four years) costs Rs 2.5 lakh. “The cost is high because only two companies in the world manufacture this device. Once there are more manufacturers, the price may reduce,” said Sankhe.

Doctors said the surgery had also become safer. “The procedure used to be blind when it was introduced and involved the risk of rupturing arteries in the brain. But now it’s possible to see images on the computer while performing the surgery,” said neurologist Dr Charulata Sankhla, who is treating Prathamesh.