Victim of Bad Heroin Sparks Parkinson's Treatment

Junkie offered brain for guinea pig testing
By Zach Samalin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2007 3:01 PM CDT
This undated image provided by the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, shows the X-Ray image of a patient with Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) leads implanted. Deep brain stimulation is routinely done for Parkinson's...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – An addict who developed Parkinson’s-like symptoms from a nasty batch of heroin has helped researchers find a new way to treat the disease. In prison for attempted murder, Toby Govea agreed to be a human guinea pig – and let doctors experiment with “deep brain stimulation," drilling a hole in his head and slipping in a thin electrical wire, Wired reports.  

Charged by a battery in his stomach, the wire fired electrical activity into his brain, "reasserting a more normal rhythm to this part of the brain... a more normal firing pattern," says one doctor. Now Govea can control his violent shaking and even read a newspaper without tearing it apart. He’s still in prison, but Parkinson’s sufferers can thank him for testing their best surgical treatment.