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Healthcare Innovation

One of the things which can keep your brain healthy is to keep stimulating it. I do that through my reading, writing, and speaking. This week, my brain was super-stimulated by attending an all-day Nuvance Health Neuroscience Institute Symposium. Dr. Paul Wright, MD, MBA and SVP, System Chair for Neuroscience at Nuvance Health assembled a set of experts each of whom described their area of specialty and discussed the state of the art for treatments. Some of the slides and videos were mind boggling. You can see the list of speakers and their topics below.

Neuroscience is a fascinating field which explores the nervous system including the brain, spinal cord, and all the nerves that connect them. It delves into how these intricate structures work together to generate thoughts, emotions, movements, and our perception of the world. Neuroscience is a vast and interdisciplinary field encompassing various subfields which approach the nervous system from different angles.

I asked Gemini what some of the subfields are: Here is the list:

  • Neurology: The science behind how we think, feel, and move, bridging the gap between mind and matter.
  • Neuroanatomy: Studies the structure and organization of the nervous system, from individual neurons to complex brain regions.
  • Neurophysiology: Focuses on the electrical and chemical signals that allow neurons to communicate and generate brain activity.
  • Neurochemistry: Explores the intricate dance of neurotransmitters and other molecules that influence brain function and behavior.
  • Neuropharmacology: Investigates the effects of drugs and medications on the nervous system.
  • Cognitive neuroscience: Examines the neural basis of higher-level cognitive functions like memory, learning, language, and decision-making.
  • Behavioral neuroscience: Links brain activity with specific behaviors.
  • Computational neuroscience: Applies principles of computer science and mathematics to model brain function.
  • Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery is a crucial subfield of neuroscience. While neuroscience encompasses the broad spectrum of studying the nervous system, neurosurgery applies the knowledge in a practical way. Neurosurgeons use their understanding of the nervous system to perform delicate surgeries on the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. These surgeries aim to treat various neurological conditions, injuries, and tumors.

All of the presentations at the Symposium were revealing, but the one which I was least familiar with was about Endovascular Coil Embolization for the treatment of aneurysms in the brain. I lost a friend some years ago to a brain aneurysm. At the time, it was reported the neurosurgeon had said, after opening the man’s skull, there was nothing else he could do. Treatment of the ballooning of weakened blood vessels in the brain is very intricate. Advancements in medical technology have introduced some scalpel-less options for aneurysm treatment.

The endovascular coil embolization procedure involves inserting a catheter, a thin flexible tube, into an artery and navigating it through blood vessels until it reaches the base of the aneurysm. The pictures in the presentation showed once in position, tiny coils were deployed from the catheter and packed into the aneurysm. The coils induce clotting within the aneurysm, essentially blocking it off and preventing blood flow into the weakened pouch. One slide showed how the brain aneurysm was completely eliminated. I am not sure how long this procedure has been widely used. The approach avoids the need for a large incision in the skull and reduces recovery time compared to traditional surgery. Continuous improvements and innovations are being made as neurosurgeons gain more experience.

The field of neuroscience is constantly evolving, with exciting advancements happening all the time. Technologies like fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) and PET scans continue to improve the ability to map brain activity with high resolution. Brain-computer interfaces and implants such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink are making significant progress, allowing people with paralysis or other neurological conditions to control external devices using their thoughts. Optogenetics is a technique which uses light to manipulate specific sets of neurons, providing a powerful tool for understanding brain circuits. Gene editing with CRISPR and other gene-editing tools are opening doors to potentially treat neurological disorders by modifying genes. AI is impacting neuroscience by helping analyze vast amounts of brain data and develop new models of brain function.

It looks to me like the future of neuroscience holds immense promise. As research continues, we can expect further breakthroughs. A deeper understanding of the brain could revolutionize treatment for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and anxiety. Understanding consciousness and free will are fundamental mysteries neuroscience is constantly exploring, and future discoveries could shed light on the very nature of what it means to be human.

The Jean Bottini Neuroscience Symposium at Nuvance Health’s The Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, New York on Tuesday, April 9th, 2024, was a full and inspiring day.

Following was the agenda of presentations.

Welcome and State of the Union
Paul Wright, MD, MBA
SVP, System Chair
Nuvance Health Neuroscience Institute

Keynote Address
Invisible Forces: How They Can Shape a Career – The third Trimester
David Langer, MD
Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Lenox Hill Hospital
Vice President, Neurosurgery, Western Region, Northwell Health
Professor, Neurosurgery and Radiology
Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Management of Intracranial Hemorrhage
Jon Lebovitz, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Danbury & Norwalk, CT
Nuvance Health

Use of the Modified Orbitozygomatic Approach for Skull Base and Vascular Lesions
David Penn, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Poughkeepsie, NY
Nuvance Health

Vascular imaging for ischemic stroke
Sea Mi Park, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Poughkeepsie, NY
Nuvance Health

Panel Discussion: Vascular & Open Cerebrovascular & endovascular neurosurgeries
David Langer, Jon Lebovitz, Sea Mi Park, & David Penn, MD

Dystonia: An Overview of Syndromes and Current and Emerging Therapies
Thomas Steeves, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Poughkeepsie, NY
Nuvance Health

Migraine is not just a headache – Updates in migraine treatment
Hida Nierenburg, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Poughkeepsie, NY

Acute Care Physical Therapy Goals and Discharge Planning
Matthew St. Pierre, PT
Physical Medicine, VBMC

Epilepsy – Medication Treatments & Beyond
Robert Bonwetsch, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Danbury, CT
Nuvance Health

Peripheral Neuropathy: Current Treatments & Advances
Matthew Imperioli, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Danbury, CT
Nuvance Health

PD 1 inhibitors and Low Grade Glioma treatments
Adesh Tandon, MD.
Oncological neurosurgery
Neuroscience Institute, Poughkeepsie, NY
Nuvance Health

Cervical Myelopathy: Current Treatments & Advances
Michael Cho, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Poughkeepsie, NY
Nuvance Health

Pain medicine updates at Nuvance
Raj Murthy, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Poughkeepsie, NY
Nuvance Health

Post Stroke Rehabilitation
Huma Naqvi, MD
Neuroscience Institute, Norwalk, CT
Nuvance Health

Closing Remarks
Paul Wright, MD, MBA
SVP, System Chair, Neuroscience, Nuvance Health

Note: I use Gemini AI and other AI chatbots as my research assistants. AI can boost productivity for anyone who creates content. Sometimes I get incorrect data from AI, and when something looks suspicious, I dig deeper. Sometimes the data varies by sources where AI finds it. I take responsibility for my posts and if anyone spots an error, I will appreciate knowing it, and will correct it.