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Treatment of Autism by Electrical Stimulation and/or Drug Infusion Disclosure Number: IPCOM000033715D
Publication Date: 2004-Dec-23

Publishing Venue

The Prior Art Database

Related People

Kristen N. Jaax: INVENTOR [+2]


Applying electrical stimulation to the brain and/or introducing one or more stimulating drugs to the brain is used to treat autism. At least one implantable system control unit (SCU) produces electrical pulses delivered via at least one electrode implanted in the brain and/or drug infusion pulses delivered via a catheter implanted in the brain. The stimulation is delivered to targeted brain structures to adjust the activity of those structures. In some embodiments, one or more sensed conditions are used to adjust stimulation parameters.

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Treatment of Autism by Electrical Stimulation and/or Drug Infusion

Background & Summary

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder with an incidence of 0.6%, translating into 24,000 of the 4 million babies born in the United States in 2000.  Assuming an average life expectancy of 70 years and a constant prevalence through the past 70 years (note that this is an actively debated assumption), an estimated 1.7 million Americans suffer from autism.  The male to female ratio on average is 3.8:1, with increased male predominance in the presence of mental impairment.  Approximately 1/3 of autistic persons achieve some degree of independent living, while fewer than 5% become self-sufficient adults. 

This disease is defined behaviorally by a syndrome including abnormal development of social skills (withdrawal, lack of interest in peers), sensorimotor deficits (e.g. inconsistent responses to stimuli), and limitations in use of interactive language including both speech as well as nonverbal communication.  Specific criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) for autistic disorder are listed below, although even within the population who meet the DSM-IV criteria there exists considerable variability in clinical presentation. Additional impairments often seen in autistic syndromes include echolalia, poor symbolic thinking and stereotypic behaviors, self –stimulation, and self-injury behaviors.  Comorbid illnesses seen with autism include seizure disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, mental retardation, and psychiatric disorders including mood disorder and depression.

DSM-IV Criteria, Autistic Disorder

A. A total of six (or more) items from (1), (2), and (3), with at least two from (1), and one each from (2) and (3).
  1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
    a. marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors (such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures) to regulate social interaction.
    b. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
    c. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests or achievements with other people, e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing or pointing out objects of interest.
    d. lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
  2. Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
    a. delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime.
    b. in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
    c. lack of varied, spontaneous, make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level.
  3. Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavi...