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What is deep brain stimulation?

How do I know if I'm a candidate for deep brain stimulation?

  1. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgery for Parkinson's and other related conditions that involves implantation of one or two 'leads' into targeted areas of the brain. Electronic signals that block some of the brain messages that cause PD motor symptoms are sent by a small, pacemaker-like device called a pulse generator that is implanted under the skin in the upper part of your chest. DBS is a viable option for patients with specific symptoms including tremor, stiffness, and slowed movement. Most patients can reduce the amount of medication they are taking which reduces unwanted side effects (such as dyskinesia). For PD, there are four possible targets in the brain. The specific target is chosen based on patient symptoms, possible unwanted side effects, and the neurosurgeon's judgement regarding which would be best for the patient. Before pursuing the possibility of DBS, do your homework online. Learn about the basic surgery, the risks, the potential benefits and the symptoms that are not improved. It is also important to be informed about DBS surgery alternatives including awake vs. sedated, rechargeable vs. non-rechargeable stimulator, stereotactic vs. frameless and any other new developments. This will prepare you to ask informed questions.
    To find out if you are a candidate for DBS, you will meet with a movement disorder neurologist and a neurosurgeon who are experienced with this procedure. The combination of this interview and results on a variety of tests (including a neuropsychological exam) will determine if you are a candidate. Important considerations will include whether you have reasonable expectations regarding the benefits of the surgery, the type and severity of your symptoms, and potential for negative side effects.

    1. Both my myself and my husband, Michael Church ( also a contributor) have PD and DBS. The decision to have Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery is an individual decision, but must be backed up with education.
      It is vital that you are comfortable with the entire TEAM for this part of your PD journey. You are your Team Captain. This is not a CURE! This is NOT a quick fix! This is a process and it takes patience! Here are some tips we learned along the way:
      1. Really check out the hospital or clinic.
      2. Do NOT be afraid to ask a LOT of questions?
      a. How many DBS surgeries have you done?
      b. What is the procedure for this hospital?
      c. May I speak with a patient who has had the surgery from you?
      d. Who will do my follow up programming?
      e. How often will I see you post surgery?
      3. If at any time you do not feel comfortable with any of the answers.... Talk it out!

      For my Michael and myself, we made a serious commitment to travel to the best in our state... (4 hour drive). This was our health! We knew that if we wanted the best outcome we wanted the best! We were not sorry! We continued that drive... first every month for the first year post surgery, then every 3 months for the past 10 years. We are still going strong and so grateful that we listened and learned as much as we could.

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