Inside the Science of an Amazing New Surgery Called Deep Brain Stimulation

Like most people in need of major surgery, Rodney Haning, a retired telecommunications project manager and avid golfer, has a few questions for his doctors. He wonders, for example, exactly how the planned treatment is going to alleviate his condition, a severe tremor in his left hand that has, among other things, completely messed up his golf game, forcing him to switch from his favorite regular-length putter to a longer model that he steadies against his belly.

“Can anyone tell me why this procedure does what it does?” Haning asks one winter afternoon at UF Health Shands Hospital, at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

“Well,” says Kelly Foote, his neurosurgeon, “we know a lot, but not everything.”

The vague answer doesn’t seem to bother Haning, 67, an affable man who has opted for the elective brain surgery. And it’s hard to fault Foote for not going into greater detail about the underlying science, since he is, at that very moment, boring a hole in Haning’s skull.

Smithsonian

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