“Our first study participant was unable to touch sharp objects,” describes Adams. “It meant she could not use knives for cooking or have them in the kitchen. She also had an obsession with Halloween-related objects and scary movies. Seeing these would trigger an obsessive thought process for her that would lead to compulsive rituals.”
These obsessions limited her ability to leave her house, and therefore impacted her quality of life.
“I have come a long way in the past year,” says the study participant. “Before the procedure, I was unable to participate in life for fear of being triggered by anything relating to harm. I could not use or be around knives or watch any TV shows or movies with weapons in them, and I was severely limited in being able to leave the house. I am now able to go out to stores and the park regularly, and I can enjoy and talk about The Witcher, one of my favorite video games.”
Early diagnosis and early intervention with medication and therapy are very important in treating OCD. Recognizing symptoms in childhood can be critical, because OCD can impact academic achievement, causing an incorrect diagnosis of a learning disability. But for treatment-resistant adults, this very specialized protocol and technique — currently in the early stages of clinical trials — is offering relief.
“My hope is that we can then offer this treatment to people with more moderate OCD conditions, thereby reducing their need for medications and avoiding unwanted side effects. It can also be difficult for patients to access therapy for psychological conditions. Regardless of what medical therapies are discovered, people with OCD will still need to learn long-term behavioural modification approaches as well. The goal of this novel treatment is to improve quality of life,” says Adams.
This research was funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Cumming Medical Research Fund, and private donors, including significant donations from the Rob McAlpine Legacy Initiative. To learn more about giving and how your support makes a difference, contact our giving team.
Dr. Beverly Adams, MD, is the senior associate Dean of Education at the Cumming School of Medicine, associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, and a member of The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. Dr. Zelma Kiss, MD, PhD, is a neurosurgeon, professor in the Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the Cumming School of Medicine, and a member of The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education and the Hotchkiss Brain Institute.