The Doctors: Parkinson’s Disease Relief
If your thumb started trembling, would it bother you? Would you even know what was going on with your body? Parkinson’s Disease can be devastating to patients, but innovative Deep Brain Stimulation surgery is providing new hope to some patients.
The Drs: Suzanne’s Parkinson’s Story
Suzanne said she had her first symptom at age 49. The muscle tremors spread throughout her body, and she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. She said that it has made everyday activities such as applying makeup or slicing vegetables very difficult.
She said that it also ended her career as a dental hygienist because of her condition. “I’ve always been a very active person, and this disease makes you want to hide in your own house, because you just feel humiliated when you’re trying to do tasks out in front of other people,” she said.
Her son said that he felt like the disease started to define her life. Suzanne said she was no longer getting relief from the medications she had been taking, and was preparing to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. She was worried about how the disease was affecting her family members as well.
The Doctors: Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery
On the day of the surgery, Suzanne said that the hope for relief from her symptoms was motivating her and keeping other symptoms in check. Neurosurgeon Dr Parag Patil explained that the procedure was similar to a brain pacemaker, sychronizing brain signals to prevent symptoms.
Suzanne was awake during the surgery, and Dr Patil showed how the MRI results would allow him to map a plan for surgery. In the OR, Suzanne said she didn’t feel pain as a device was inserted through a small hole in her skull.
The DBS electrode was placed in a precise spot. Suzanne performed motor functions with her hands, allowing the surgical team to calibrate the electrodes to manage and prevent her tremors.
Parkinson’s Disease: Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery Results
About six months after her surgery, Suzanne and her surgeon, Dr Patil, joined Dr Travis Stork in the studio for an update on her story. Since the operation, she said she has been much more steady. She said seeing her operation made her tear up. She called the operation life-changing.
“It provides immediate improvement of the tremors,” Dr Travis said, going over Suzanne’s MRIs with Dr Patil.
How DBS Implants Control Parkinson’s Disease
Dr Patil highlighted the Subphalanic Nuclei, which are critical to the brain’s motor function. That’s where the DBS lead was inserted to help control Suzanne’s tremors. Dr Patil showed how a wire under the skin sends electrical signals to the lead inserted in the brain. That’s what controls the tremors and eradicates Parkinson’s symptoms.
Dr Travis also looked at Suzanne’s post-op MRI, which showed the leads in her brain. Suzanne has a great sense of humor, and she agreed to let The Doctors temporarily turn off her device to show the dramatic improvement, “as long as you turn it back on.”
When the device was temporarily deactivated, Suzanne’s tremors returned instantly. But Dr Patil turned it back on and her tremors subsided once again. That’s a remarkable and promising advance for this devastating condition.