Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain. Symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremors (rhythmic movement of the lips, chin, hands, and legs), stiffness and slowness, and balance issues. Deep brain stimulation is one of the most beneficial treatments for the Parkinson’s disease symptoms.
“Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is decreased in patients with Parkinson’s disease,” says Ramon Lugo, a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida. To help control symptoms, patients may take a medication that increases the dopamine in the brain.
But, alternatively, doctors may also use deep brain stimulation to treat patients who are not receiving medication relief. Deep brain stimulation is a way to electrically modulate the parts of the brain that are responsible for the reckless tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease.
In deep brain stimulation, the electrodes are placed in the subthalamic nucleus and are wired to an implantable pulse generator, a type of pacemaker device placed under the collarbone.
Once activated, the implantable pulse generator sends continuous electrical pulses to the target areas of the brain, modifying the brain circuits that are
responsible for the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease without permanently changing the brain.
Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease is straightforward to use and has almost no side effects
Patients receive a simple remote control to turn the implantable pulse generator on or off, check the device lifespan or choose from a variety of preset functions based on their symptoms and needs.
Badih Adada, the director of the Braathen Neuroscience Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida, explains the benefits of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s patients.
What is significant about this device used in deep brain stimulation is that it does not damage any part of the brain and also has fewer complications than other types of surgery. Adjustments can be made as the person’s condition changes without additional interventions. It may be turned off if any side effects occur, with no long-term consequences.
More than 70 percent of patients undergoing this procedure show significant improvement in all related symptoms.
Badih Adada also added that, as with any surgery, there are some risks.
“In general, risks may include infection, intracerebral hemorrhage, and changes in memory or cognition. Generally, the benefits patients gain from the deep brain stimulation device outweigh the risks,“ concluded Dr. Adada.