Deep Brain Stimulation a ray of hope for Parkinson's Disease - Medx Health Assistance

Deep Brain Stimulation a ray of hope for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a medical condition in which a part of your brain that controls your body movements gets affected. Parkinson’s starts with symptoms like a little shakiness in your hand. But soon, such shakiness can significantly impact all your bodily functions like how you walk, talk, sleep, and think. It is a type of a degenerative disorder, and you’re more likely to get it when you’re sixty or above. There’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but you can get treatment and support to manage the symptoms. 

There is hope!

Deep Brain Stimulation is one such ray of hope for people who have Parkinson’s disease. It is a treatment option for treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s that also include tremors, stiffness, and trouble walking. It can also treat the side effects of Parkinson’s medicines. Although it can’t cure the disease but can help reduce symptoms typically when the person is affected for over four years.

Every Parkinson’s disease patient has some or other unique symptoms. That is why the treatment options for every patient are customized. Most of Parkinson’s disease patients begin with oral medication to subside the symptoms. But with the progression of the disease, the effectiveness of dosage decreases. As a result, the medication dosage is increased to treat the symptoms. At this stage, the right solution is to go for Deep Brain Stimulation.

How does Deep Brain Stimulation work?

In a Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), individual electrodes are implanted in parts of the brain that regulate electrical impulses. Such impulses neutralize the abnormal impulses responsible for motor movement disorders. The stimulation is controlled by a pacemaker type of device installed under the chest which is connected to the electrodes through wires that travel under the skin. DBS device is approved by the FDA and can be used to treat Parkinson’s disease and tremors.

Benefits of Deep Brain Stimulation

  • Treats the symptoms like tremors in arms and legs, muscle rigidity, abnormal posture, abrupt muscle contractions, and Dystonia.
  • Maintains the sleep cycle, controls the restless legs syndrome and sleep disturbances by regulating the impulses during sleep.
  • Improves the lifestyle and helps in lowering depression and anxiety
  • Less dependability on others for carrying out basic daily routines

DBS device placement procedure

Before the DBS device is placed in your body, you will have to undergo several physical examinations and diagnostics tests like MRI & CT scans. These tests will help your doctor understand your brains’ detailed status, like your memory, thinking, or mood. Scans help to pinpoint the area of your brain, which is to be targeted. You will be advised to practice meditation, breathing exercises, and other ways to be relaxed, which will help you pre- and post-the procedure. 

Deep brain stimulation involves two steps: one to place the lead in your brain, and the second to put the pulse generator in your chest.  For the lead placement, your skull will be numbed, and a small hole is created to put a wireframe, which helps the surgeon and navigation to reach the target spot. You may need to answer questions or to move specific body parts to check the response. It is a delicate process and may take a while; that’s why breathing exercises done before are helpful at this stage. When the target spot is found, the doctor puts the lead in place. The wire that connects the lead to the battery pack runs under the skin of your scalp. The hole in your skull gets closed up with a plastic cap and stitches. You’ll likely stay in the hospital overnight and go home the next day. 

The procedure to place the pulse generator in your chest is done after a few weeks’ gaps. The surgeon implants the pulse generator under the skin in your chest, near your collarbone. The generator is programmed to send continuous electrical pulses to your brain. You control the generator, and you can turn it on or off using a special remote control.

A few weeks after the procedure, a movement disorder specialist uses a handheld programmer to set parameters, tailored to each individual’s unique symptoms, into the neuro-stimulator. The DBS settings are gradually tweaked over time, and medications are simultaneously adjusted. Depending on your condition, the stimulation may be constant 24 hours a day, or you may be advised to turn your pulse generator off at night and switch it on in the morning. In some cases, your doctor may program the pulse generator to let you make minor adjustments at home.

You’ll need to keep taking your usual dose of Parkinson’s medicine after the device is placed. Your device can’t be programmed until the swelling in your brain goes down, which takes about two to four weeks, and after the pulse generator placement. It also takes time to get the programming right. People need around six sessions over six months to find the settings that work best. But once you do, your symptoms could get better, and you may need less medicine. 

Many researchers and specialists believe that deep brain stimulation regulates abnormal electrical signaling patterns in the brain.

The success rate of a Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery for Parkinson’s disease is associated with a 10-year survival rate of 51%. Survey data suggest that while DBS does not halt disease progression in Parkinson’s disease, it provides durable symptomatic relief and allows many individuals to maintain acts of daily life over long-term follow-up greater than ten years. There are several variables involved in the success of deep brain stimulation. It is important to talk with your doctor before the stimulation process about what type of improvement you can expect for your condition.

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