The Pentagon is continuing its search for new therapies to help brain-injured veterans, including brain implants for memory loss and Transcendental Meditation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2001 and 2003, more than 280,000 military service members and veterans had suffered brain injuries. The Department of Veterans Affairs will spend some $4.2 billion annually from now until 2022 to care for these individuals.
However, any medical impact from this research will also benefit the 1.7 million Americans that are diagnosed every year with memory loss. Andres Lozano, chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, told Bloomberg, “The way human memory works is one of the great unsolved mysteries. This has tremendous value from a basic science aspect. It may have huge implications for patients with disorders affecting memory, including those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.”
The Pentagon has received many proposals from industry and academia on the concept of stimulating the brain to restore memory. There is already an existing implant used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions that officials hope to improve on. The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to specific develop a small wireless device with “implantable probes” to stimulate and record brain activity but are open to ideas.
Although the process is alarming to some, there are hopes these brain implants, also referred to by DARPA as “probes”, will help people stricken by memory loss.