How deep brain stimulation works to treat Parkinson’s disease

Around 60,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease each year. This achronic motor system disorder leads to tremors, stiffness and difficulty with coordination and balance. Medication can help, but isn’t enough for some patients. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) can be an effective treatment for this debilitating disease. Read on to learn more about DBS and when it’s indicated for patients.

What is DBS?

DBS is a surgical procedure that was first approved in 1997 to treat Parkinson’s disease and approved in 2002 for the treatment of advanced symptoms. It was approved in 2016 to treat the earlier stages of Parkinson’s and people who have had the disease for at least four years and motor symptoms that medication cannot adequately control.

The procedure

During DBS surgery, the surgeon implants a small, stopwatch-size device called a neurostimulator — similar to a pacemaker for the heart — under the skin of the abdomen. The surgeon will then connect it to electrodes that are placed in the brain to deliver electrical signals. Before the procedure, an MRI or CT scan will help determine the exact place within the brain where the electrical nerve signals generate the debilitating symptoms, which is where the surgeon will place the electrodes.

Once the neurostimulator and electrodes are in place, electrical impulses are sent from the neurostimulator up along the extension wire and to the active contacts of the electrode in the brain. These impulses will block the electrical signals that cause Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

The results

DBS provides significant symptom relief, especially for patients experiencing disabling tremors, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement and slowed walking. It will not, however, cure or slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. As DBS provides reduction in medication dosage, this limits the occurrence of side effects and can improve the overall quality of life for patients.

If you are interested in learning more about DBS for Parkinson’s disease symptom relief, please call us at Texas Neurosurgery at (214) 823-2052 to set up a consultation with our neurosurgeons.

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