Human brain is a marvel. We still have so little information about it, yet depend so much on it. Our brains are astonishingly perfect. Even a small error there impacts us gravely. Neurological disorders, or problems in the brain are therefore of paramount importance, as they target the most vital human organ. There are different kinds of neurological disorders like strokes, migraines, brain tumours etc.
Parkinson's disease became amongst the most talked of diseases when the greatest sports person of last century, Mohammad Ali, fell victim to it. Even before that, this special kind of neurological disorder have wreaked havoc on the lives of thousands. It causes its victim to gradually lose control of their movements. More than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease, which makes it the second most prevalent neural disease, after Alzheimer's disease. In Bangladesh, every year, approximately 1,600 patients die from Parkinson's disease, with many more suffering from it.
There is no cure for Parkinson's disease. Treatment of Parkinson's disease is, therefore, mainly concerned with controlling the symptoms, which is initially achieved via medication. However, the most prevalent treatment, levodopa therapy, causes the patient to suffer from long term complications.
The next step is surgery. There are two options with regards to surgery. The first one is Lesion therapy. With recent advances in imaging technology and electrophysiological techniques, we can accurately identify and destroy target structures deep in the brain. The most advanced option now is Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), where electrodes are placed deep inside the brain and used to stimulate the brain with an aim of stabilising its output.
In Bangladesh, DBS is still a relatively unexplored path. The complicated procedure means that sufficient skill training is required before a surgeon can attempt this procedure. This has caused a gap in the demand and supply dynamic, resulting in patients from Bangladesh going to Singapore or India to perform this procedure.
Fortunately, times are changing, and some of the most renowned people in the field of DBS are going to be in Bangladesh in September, to attend IBRO-APRC Bangladesh Associate School of Neuroscience: Translational Neuroscience and Research, to be organised at United International University and National Institute of Neuroscience and Hospital from. The initiative is taken by Advanced Intelligence Multidisciplinary Lab (AIMS Lab) of UIU and participants have been chosen from the Asia Pacific region through a highly competitive selection process. A total of 14 lectures, 2 live demonstrations, 3 discussions, and 1 mini conference is going to be organised. Brain researchers will intermingle with surgeons and academicians in order to form an interdisciplinary expert body, to jump start the Deep Brain Stimulation scene in Bangladesh.
As a part of the workshop, world renowned neurosurgeon Prof Tipu Aziz from Oxford University, who is amongst the top neurosurgeon for Lesion and Deep Brain Stimulation, with more than 25 years of experience will interact with neurologists and neurosurgeons of Bangladesh to explain Lesion and DBS. It is worth mentioning that Prof. Aziz has done significant contribution in the advancement of DBS intervention around the world.
Our health sector has already adapted many pioneering techniques, and hopefully the transfer of knowledge from such luminaries will motivate the highly talented neurosurgeons and neurologists in Bangladesh to embrace and improve Deep Brain Stimulation techniques.
With life expectancy increasing, the number of Parkinson's disease patients is also increasing steadily. With successful adaptation of this procedure to bring cutting edge medical services and the patients would certainly be another defining moment to live better life.
Dr Mamun is Director, AIMS Lab and Associate Professor and Mr Jameel is Assistant Professor, Department of CSE, United International University (UIU).