Doctors are warning that some people should change the way they recharge their brain implants, after a nearby lightning strike made a woman’s brain stimulation device shut down.
Brain stimulators are often used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease, tremors or severe muscle spasms. They comprise thin electrodes inserted through a hole in the skull into the part of the brain that controls movement. These connect via wires under the skin to a battery implanted near the neck. When turned on, an electrical current stimulates part of the brain and damps down the movement problems.
Last year, lightning struck the apartment of a Slovenian woman who has a brain stimulator that stops her from having neck muscle spasms and tremors. When the strike hit, her TV and air conditioner – which were both on at the time – were burned and destroyed.
About an hour later, she noticed that her neck tremor was returning. At hospital the next day, Dušan Flisar of University Medical Centre in Ljubljana found that her stimulation device had automatically shut down and needed to be reset.
This is the first report of lightning affecting a brain-stimulation device, and Flisar says the strike could have been fatal if she had been recharging her device in a certain way when it happened. Devices like this need to be repowered several times a week, by holding the pad of a recharger over the skin.
This charger itself also needs to be topped up, which is done by plugging it into the mains electricity supply. For some types of device, one option is to recharge the implant using the charger while it is itself plugged into the mains – but Flisar’s team are now warning against doing this. “If a huge surge of electricity enters the system, it could be conducted into the brain – we don’t know,” says Flisar.
source : https://www.newscientist.com/article/2167711-lightning-hit-a-womans-home-and-switched-off-her-brain-implant/