The moment when a patient in the operating room who has experienced tremors suddenly stops shaking is described as being emotionally uplifting, not only for the patient, but the for the entire medical team working with that patient. It’s very dramatic. This is the next step to restoring some sense of normalcy to someone who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
I am fortunate to have experienced several of these moments. Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological disorder that impacts the central nervous system, so those with the disease experience uncontrollable movement, such as tremors, stiff limbs and problems with standing and walking.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure and some of the latest technology in the battle against Parkinson’s. A similar concept to a heart pacemaker, doctors implant metal electrodes –thin, insulated wires – into the brain. With the help of an implanted computerized pulse generator, electrical impulses are sent to parts of the brains impacted by the disease. As a result, the electrodes restore normal brain rhythms thus helping improve movement. The surgery takes place while the patient is awake, which allows us to monitor brain rhythms and watch for symptom relief – right in the operating room.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Parkinson’s, but researchers continue to study this disease and develop new ways for improving symptoms. As one of the only teams in the area using DBS with my colleagues Dr. Lea and Dr. Smith, I believe it is a viable solution that reduces the motor symptoms patients experience and possibly reducing the amount of medication needed to control these symptoms. The end result is to give the patient a better quality of life.
To learn more about these procedures, click here.