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WVU to use brain stimulation, implants to treat addictions

West Virginia University Medicine plans to expand addictions treatment next year to include magnetic stimulation and implants to calm the part of patients' brains where increased activity produces cravings. (MGN Online)

West Virginia University Medicine plans to expand addictions treatment next year to include magnetic stimulation and implants to calm the part of patients' brains where increased activity produces cravings.

Dr. Ali Rezai, the new director of WVU's Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, said Monday that new therapies follow major advances in brain scanning that have also led to treatments for movement disorders like Parkinson's disease and psychological afflictions including depression and severe anxiety.

Rezai, a neurosurgeon who does two or three brain implant surgeries a week, said the new addictions treatments are adjuncts to current treatments that typically involve counseling and medications such as suboxone that help to inhibit cravings.

They also plan to advance technologies where patients could wear simple sensors monitoring their physiology to predict and address addictive behaviors in advance.

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