See Inside Scientific American Mind Volume 25, Issue 4

New Brain Implant Conquers Vertigo

Surgeons have implanted a new prosthesis in four patients to correct disabling dizziness. The device may someday restore balance to hundreds of thousands more

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One day in 2009 Robert Milner (not his real name), a lawyer and avid outdoorsman, was driving on a highway through the mountains of Washington State when he sensed he was tumbling sideways. Had his car flipped, propelled perhaps by an unseen T-bone collision? Milner slammed on the brakes. The car stopped—but not upside down. It sat fully upright in the middle of the highway. There Milner stayed, stuck in his mental tailspin, until the highway patrol arrived.

Such attacks of vertigo, the sense that you are moving when you are not, were not foreign to Milner. He had been having them every few days. One time he collapsed onto the courthouse steps in his suit, the world spinning as he lay on his side, nauseated and unable to move, until somebody called 911 and paramedics helped him into an ambulance.

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