Deep brain stimulation (DBS) uses a battery-operated medical device to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, as well as essential tremor and dystonia, which cause uncontrollable shaking and movement disorders. Thanks to its technology, this medical device-called neurostimulator, sparked a revolution for Parkinson’s patients, helping them lead a normal life. Neurosurgeon Ali Zırh, M.D., explained the deep brain stimulation treatment in detail. Zırh serves at Medipol University Hospital’s Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Clinic, the first clinic in Istanbul, Turkey with a focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and research of Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.
What is Parkinson’s disease (PD)?
PD is a neurological disorder characterized by low brain dopamine concentrations. PD damages the nerve cells that produce dopamine, causing rigidity, shaking (or tremor), slowed movement (bradykinesia), mask-like expression, short steps and tendency to lean forward.
How to Distinguish the Resting Tremor of Parkinson’s Disease from Essential Tremor
Usually, Parkinson’s tremor is a resting tremor. The other one is unintentional shaking based on positional properties and occurs at a rather young age. This motion is called essential tremor.
What are the Treatment Options?
We usually start drug treatment for movement disorders with tremors, such as Parkinson’s disease. For patients who do not respond to drug treatment at the desired level, we achieve successful results with DBS.
How is the DBS Device Implanted?
Deep brain stimulation surgery involves the placement of two electrodes into specific regions of the brain while the patient is awake. The battery pack is placed in the chest just below the collarbone. The extension wires implanted below the skin connects the electrodes to the battery. Then, we turn the device on to set the frequencies and parameters for symptom relief.
How Long do the Effects of DBS last?
The DBS battery lasts for four to six years, depending on the electrical current given to patients. A half-hour surgery is performed to replace the battery implanted under the skin of the chest.
How does DBS Affect Quality of Life?
The surgery provides striking results, helping patients return to an almost normal quality of life. After the surgery, patients who were not able to maintain their independence without a caretaker, regain control of their independence and social life, managing day-to-day activities.