An FDA-approved procedure that is improving the lives of patients with Parkinson’s, essential tremors and dystonia
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a leading functional neurosurgery procedure that utilizes electronic stimulation of particular regions of the brain to improve the major symptoms of some movement disorders, including Parkinson’s. The procedure is helping many patients to return to leading independent lives and is enabling neurologists to reduce the amount of medication required to manage symptoms.
Approved by the FDA, DBS is performed in two separate operations. They involve the implantation of a multi-contact electrode lead into the crucial part of the brain considered responsible for, or at least involved in, the pathology of a given disorder and connecting the lead to a pulse generator or “pacemaker” implanted under the skin of the chest.
In patients with Parkinson’s, essential tremor and dystonia, the electrode is inserted into the part of the brain deemed responsible for symptom generation or propagation. Without destroying brain tissue, DBS permits modulation of the neurocircuitry of the brain. In many instances, remarkable improvement is achieved. Many Parkinson’s patients can return to leading independent lives, feeding and dressing themselves. Those with essential tremor may have a 60 to 90 percent reduction in their tremor, and dystonia patients may improve 90 percent.
Nora L. Chan
Director of the Movement Disorders Program