Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's Disease

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

A great overview article on deep brain stimulation (DBS) for the treatment of symptoms caused by Parkinson's disease was posted today at WebMD.

DBS is accomplished by implanting electrodes directly into the brain and a transmitting device below the collarbone.  The transmitter stimulates regular electrical impulses from the electrodes, which effectively "turn off" parts of the brain where many Parkinson's symptoms originate.  Among those symptoms most commonly improved by DBS are tremors, slow movement, rigidity, and problems with walking and balance.

This is an FDA approved procedure but is commonly reviewed with caution because scientists cannot convincingly explain how or why it works.  However, the data collected in carefully designed trials on real patients is very clear and very positive.

There are many considerations in the decision to undergo DBS as part of a treatment regimen.  After all, it requires surgery that includes incisions through the skull and into the chest, so it is not a minor procedure.  However, compared to alternative approaches that intentionally destroy brain tissue, this might be considered a less invasive approach.

The cited WebMD article is fairly comprehensive and touches on a wider summary of advantages and disadvantages.  I encourage you to click through and read more about it.