Did you know that doctors have performed operations to remove half of a person’s brain for hundreds of times? The process is called hemispherectomy. The procedure is used as a last resort, and when alternative treatments are deemed to be unfeasible for the patient. From the SciAm article:
Neurosurgeons have performed the operation on children as young as three months old. Astonishingly, memory and personality develop normally. A recent study found that 86 percent of the 111 children who underwent hemispherectomy at Hopkins between 1975 and 2001 are either seizure-free or have nondisabling seizures that do not require medication. The patients who still suffer seizures usually have congenital defects or developmental abnormalities, where brain damage is often not confined to just one hemisphere, Freeman explains.
Another study found that children that underwent hemispherectomies often improved academically once their seizures stopped. “One was champion bowler of her class, one was chess champion of his state, and others are in college doing very nicely,” Freeman says.
Of course, the operation has its downside: “You can walk, runâ€”some dance or skipâ€”but you lose use of the hand opposite of the hemisphere that was removed. You have little function in that arm and vision on that side is lost,” Freeman says.