Nerve "Pacemakers" Are Changing Lives

Uses may range from Parkinson's disease to obesity

Parkinson's disease used to make Paige Brenner's left hand shake so much that it took her 20 minutes to put her hair in a ponytail. Then, surgeons at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix implanted a device that delivers a mild electrical shock to an area of her brain responsible for movement. Now she does her hair in 20 seconds. Indeed, the moment doctors activated the implant via radio control, her tremor became barely noticeable. "It was like flipping a light switch," says Brenner, a 31-year-old archivist for TSG Publishing in Cave Creek, Ariz.

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