When technology gets used in unusual ways, the result is usually a breakthrough. When it comes to treating things like Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, addiction, depression, and more, digital therapies are making strides. Patients who once struggled to get any benefit from traditional treatments now have new ones at their fingertips in the form of apps, video games, and more.
Treating Parkinson’s Disease: The New Frontier
The general public has had less interaction with those suffering from Parkinson’s disease overall. With about 1% of the population being affected, this comes as no surprise. However when you look at the actual number, suddenly you’ll be shocked and wonder why you haven’t met such individuals personally. 10 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Unfortunately, many more are estimated to develop Parkinson’s. In a 2018 study, Parkinson’s disease was predicted to affect 1.2 million Americans by 2030. Looking ahead there will be a flood of people dealing with a so-far incurable condition. Nevertheless, there are exceedingly advanced methods of treatment, the most promising of which involves digital therapeutics.
InsightTec has developed and successfully implemented a method to surgically treat tremors prevalent in those with Parkinson’s without actually incising. Having treated over 3000 patients Exablate Neuro is an ultra sound-producing helmet made of piezoceramics (a class of metals with advantageous uses with ultrasonic transducers) that combines several technologies.
Utilizing Magnetic Resonance Imaging and advanced software, the helmet emits many focused and powerful ultrasonic blasts to make cuts in the brain without a scalpel. It can affect a localized area of 2-5mm accurately within less than 1mm. Exablate Neuro is equipped with a water cooling system for the patient, to prevent overheating of the skull during the procedure which could cause burns.
While this inspires new hope for those who deal with tremors daily, there are some criteria for patients to be prescribed the cutting edge procedure.
- Patients seeking treatment of Tremor Dominant Parkinson’s Disease (TDPD) must be 30 years or older
- A confirmed diagnosis of TDPD by medical history and exam by a specialist
- The tremor is disabling even with optimal medication therapy
- Be capable of withstanding the procedure with semi-sedation
- Able to communicate sensations during the procedure
- Can activate stop sonication button
For those who can meet these requirements the Exablate Neuro can reduce tremor frequency by over 20%, and improve the functioning of speaking, eating and drinking, writing, and dressing.4 That adds up to a better quality of life for many in areas of activity that we might take for granted. And with 60 treatment centers, treatment might be more attainable than one might think.
Video Games And Apps For Other Conditions
Video games are being used to treat Autism, depression, and Multiple Sclerosis, giving patients greater working memory, selective attention, and executive functioning. They are being tested to treat Lupus, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and more.
Apps are being developed to help treat addiction, as one of the biggest challenges to treatment is access. Apps work in conjunction with outpatient therapy and have been shown to produce results.
The emergence of cutting edge technologies has produced many such wonderful treatments like Exablate Neuro. Learn more about what other breakthroughs digital therapeutics can produce here.
This story originally appeared on Kivo Daily