Posts tagged ‘brain’

Advancing to the next level of technology

With the addition of the new Leksell Gamma Knife® Perfexion™, Penn State Hershey Medical Center welcomes the first significant advance in Gamma Knife technology in the past thirty years. Gamma Knife surgery is a well-established method used to treat selected targets in the brain. More than 50,000 patients undergo Gamma Knife surgery every year.

There are many additional benefits of the new stereotactic radiosurgery system. In particular, the new positioning system moves the entire table during the procedure, rather than just moving the patient’s head back and forth. This enables physicians to treat a greater area, including the upper cervical regions.

“With the current Gamma Knife technology, we have to be concerned about the location of multiple tumors,” says Sandra J. Brettler, M.S.N., R.N., C.C.R.N., C.N.R.N., nurse coordinator, neurosurgery. “Sometimes, we have to treat them twice, because we cannot reach all of the tumors in the same session. Now, with Perfexion, we can treat them all at once.” (more…)

August 23, 2012 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Today’s Research – Researchers study effects of manganese on brain

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine are actively working in Hershey, with colleagues at Penn State, University Park and other Penn State campuses, and with colleagues at various institutions across the country to conduct groundbreaking research. Their discoveries continue to contribute to the advancement of health care on all levels.

College of Medicine scientists are researching the effects of the metal manganese on brain functions. This research builds on the results of an earlier, smaller-scale study that looked at welders. Research has indicated that environmental factors, including metals toxic to the neurological system, may play a role in the cause of neurobehavioral disorders. In a preliminary study, Xuemei Huang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues looked at a small group of welders and found an association between exposure to manganese-containing metal fumes and decreased motor performance on a test for dexterity/fine motor control in the welders.

The team’s prior study suggests that there is manganese accumulation in many other regions of the brain in welders who are showing no classic symptoms of overexposure, specifically in a part of the brain associated with smell. This suggests that at least some of the manganese is getting into the brain through inhalation. They also showed manganese in the areas of the brain associated with motor control, which correlates to the decreased motor control observed.

The initial study was supported by National Institute of Environmental Sciences, with additional support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Penn State General Clinical Research Center (now the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute), and results were published in the scientific journal Toxicological Sciences. The current study has received funding from the National Institute of Environmental Sciences.

More about this research >>

August 20, 2012 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Penn State researchers make strides toward early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease

Parkinsons disease graphicThe casual observer barely notices how a person’s arms swing when walking, but to Penn State Hershey Medical Center neurologist Xuemei Huang, M.D., that natural movement can speak volumes about a person’s neurological health.

Specifically, Huang and her team of clinicians, engineers, kinesiologists, and computer scientists at Penn State have made the study of gait the focus of their research into identifying early signs of Parkinson’s disease. About 1 million Americans suffer from the tremors and movement abnormalities that Parkinson’s cause, and that number is rising as the population ages. “Over the past years, we have been focused on understanding what happens in the brain of Parkinson’s patients. If we don’t understand a disease then we don’t know how to treat, cure, or prevent it,” Huang says. “One of our projects was to try to detect Parkinson’s disease very early because we know the disease does not appear overnight; it develops over a long period of time. We have shown how we may use arm swing during walking as a potential early gauge of disease.”

Parkinson’s disease involves the death of dopamine nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine regulates dexterity, spontaneity, smoothness, and stability when a person moves. Today, the typical Parkinson’s patient does not get a diagnosis until their tremor or motor dysfunction is so obvious that the brain has already lost 60 to 80 percent of its dopamine. “One of the inspirations for our research was to be able to diagnose Parkinson’s before that 60-plus percent of dopamine is lost,” Huang says.

Huang’s breakthrough research into the role of gait in Parkinson’s disease began while she was at the University of North Carolina. She coauthored a scientific paper that reported that symmetry in arm swing differed significantly between people with early Parkinson’s and people who did not have the disease. She came to Penn State Hershey in 2008 to further her research.


February 10, 2012 at 9:15 am 2 comments

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