Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressive neurologic condition where the patient has involuntary trembling/tremors, muscular stiffness or inflexibility, and difficulty carrying out movements due to muscle rigidity. The disease usually begins in people between the ages of 50 and 65, striking around one percent of the population in that age group.
Medication has gotten better and better at lessening the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, but some patients don’t have great results from them. In those cases, the team at Texas Neurosurgery may use deep brain stimulation to improve the patient’s condition.
What are the symptoms of Parkinson’s?
Parkinson’s progresses slowly. In some people, the first signs they notice are a sense of weakness and maybe unusually stiff muscles. There may be some muscle response issues that seem suddenly new. The disease is progressive and worsens over time. These are the general symptoms of Parkinson’s:
- Slowness of voluntary muscle movement
- A shuffling gait with minimal arm swing and stooped posture
- Decreased facial expression
- Increased eye blinking
- Unsteady balance
- Difficulty rising from a sitting position
- Continuous “pill-rolling” motion between thumb and forefinger
- Abnormal tone or stiffness in the trunk and extremities
- Swallowing problems in later disease progression
What is deep brain stimulation?
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure used as Parkinson’s treatment for patients who aren’t responding to medication. Deep brain stimulation deactivates the parts of the brain that trigger the disease without destroying nearby brain tissue.
How it is done
The team at Texas Neurosurgery places a small device inside the patient’s chest. The device sends electrical pulses to leads placed in the brain; these pulses block the nerve signals that cause Parkinson’s symptoms. In most patients, the electrodes are put on the thalamus, the subthalamic nucleus, and the globus pallidus.
The DBS system has four parts:
- A thin wire, called a lead, is placed in the parts of the patient’s brain causing symptoms.
- A pulse generator, somewhat like a pacemaker, sends the electrical signals to the leads.
- A wire connects the leads to the pulse generator.
- A remote control to program the system is the only part of the system outside of the patient’s body.