WVU Medicine deep brain stimulation study aims to change how severe addiction is treated

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va – There’s a new way to treat severe forms of addcition being studied at WVU Medicine that involves brain surgery.

Deep brain stimulation, as it’s known, is a method where a device is surgically implanted deep into a patient’s brain. The device then stimulates the areas of the brain responsible for addiction, said James Berry the interim chair of behavioral medicine and psychiatry. Berry was recently on the television program The Doctors, which airs on NBC to talk about the work that is a collaborative effort among many parts of West Virginia University.

Berry said they are the first team to work on this study in all of North America and that they have already implanted it in one patient.

“He’s doing very, very well,” Berry said. “We monitor him regularly. He has responded quite nicely to the treatment thus far so we are in the process of recruiting three more patients for the ongoing study and these need to be patients that are already enrolled in our addiction programs and people who have not been able to be successful with what we we’ve been able to offer as usual standard of care.”

Best case scenario, even if the treatment becomes standard practice, Berry said he does not aniticpate it will become the first line of treatment. The reason for that he said is because WVU already offers standard forms of treatment that are very effective.

So effective, Berry said that they have the good pleasure of seeing people get better everyday. He said he encourages people, as much as he can, who are suffering from addiction to receive the treatment they already offer.

“Remember this is brain surgery and should not be taken lightly so this should really be reserved,” Berry said.

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