Pittsburgh 55+ Magazine Dr Joseph Maroon Discusses the Latest on Addiction and Alzheimers Treatments

Pittsburgh 55+ Magazine • Spring 2024 issue – Neurosurgeon and Wellness Expert, Dr. Joseph Maroon was has been a quest contributor to Pittsburgh 55+ Magazine for over 10 years.  The quarterly magazine is released in both print and online formats and targets many communities in Western PA.  In his the Spring 2024 article Dr. Maroon discusses, Advances in Brain Surgery Treatments for Parkinson’s Disease opens New Approaches to Addiction and Alzheimer’s Disease.

In the article, Dr. Maroon relates how a modified pacemaker, called a Deep Brain Stimulator or DBS, initially used by neurosurgeons to treat severe tremors  was also found to have a variety of behavioral benefits beyond tremor reduction. Reductions of depression symptoms and decreased appetite with weight loss were also being reported. The article goes on to discuss how, more recently, researchers right here in western PA and northern WV, at UPMC, AHN and WVU Medical Center in Morgantown, demonstrated profound mental health benefits targeting new brain locations using DBS. FDA-approved research, led by neurosurgeons and neurologists, has shown significant improvements in patients with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and even reduced addiction cravings for opioids.


Ultrasound for Alzheimer’s Disease

In addition to the the DBS advancements, Dr. Maroon discusses how a specialized ultrasound device, used to target Alzheimer’s disease plagues, when coupled with the new Alzheimer’s drugs, can rapidly reduce the Alzheimer’s plaques in the brain.  Described as “non-invasive surgery”, modified low intensity ultrasound technology is being used to externally highly focus beams of ultrasound into various areas of the brain with a focal point of less than one millimeter in size. Once focused these beams can generate heat. For Alzheimer’s patients the focused beam of ultrasound is directed into Alzheimer’s related brain plaques. Changes caused by the heat allows the latest Alzheimer’s drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier more easily and allow for a more potent and focused drug delivery. Follow-up MRIs on treated patients has shown significant size and density reductions of the treated Alzheimer’s plaques when co-treated with the focused ultrasound beam and the Alzheimer’s drug compared to areas that were not treated with the ultrasound.

Currently all of these advanced treatments are in there early phases, and not available other than by enrolling in an investigational study.  Dr. Maroon and others in the field are optimistic in the future that these treatments may become approved and widely use to treat these horrible diseases and conditions.