A Close Look at DBS for Parkinson’s patients

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s disease

As caregivers, we understand what PD patients long to hear-there is a cure! While this may be a flicker of hope, it is important to get the facts right to avoid disappointment.

What is DBS?

DBS is not a cure for Parkinson’s disease. It is a treatment for patients whose symptoms cannot be adequately controlled by the use of medication.

Deep Brain Stimulation is a surgical operation to install a stimulator to the brain. It delivers electrical stimulation to targeted areas in the brain that control movement, blocking the abnormal nerve signals that cause Parkinson’s symptoms.

This surgery can take place in either one or two phases depending on the surgeon’s recommendation. An incision is made into the brain where the lead is placed. After about ten days, the pulse generator is implanted through an outpatient surgery. A portion of the scalp incision is then re-opened to implant the neuron stimulator. The lead is attached to an extension wire passing under the skin of the scalp.

Patients should continue with their usual dose of PD medicine until the device is programmed. This is only possible after the swelling caused by surgery has gone down. Medication will be adjusted at this stage.

What happens after DBS?

The doctor schedules visits after every three weeks to adjust the stimulation settings.

Response to DBS varies among individuals. Some will exhibit reduced symptoms such as less hand tremors , less anxiety while others experience worsened speech, depression and balance impairments.

Before making the DBS decision, consult with the doctor to ensure you understand its process, opportunities it presents and the risks that may be involved.