Trepanation, the ancient practice of drilling a hole in your skull to relieve pressure on the brain, is now being studied as a possible treatment for dementia. The effort is being led by Russian neurophysiologist Yuri Moskalenko, now at the Beckley Foundation in Oxford. Apparently, dementia may be correlated with cranial compliance, a measure of how cerebrospinal fluid circulates around the brain. If that system gets mucked up, the brain doesn't function well. From New Scientist (image from Wikimedia Commons
Moskalenko studied 15 people who had undergone (trepanation) following head injuries. He found that their cranial compliance was around 20 per cent higher than the average for their age. Based on this, he calculates that a 4-square-centimetre hole increases cerebral blood flow by between 8 and 10 per cent, which is equivalent to 0.8 millilitres more blood per heartbeat (Human Physiology, vol 34, p 299). This, he says, shows that trepanation could be an effective treatment for Alzheimer's, and he even goes so far as to suggest that it might provide a "significant" improvement in the mental functions of anyone from their mid-40s, when cranial compliance starts to decline.
The Return of Trepanation
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