deep brain stimulation

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is considered a surgical treatment alternative for patients who are affected by long term complications of Parkinson disease. Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease of the brain characterized by gradually worsening tremor, muscle rigidity and difficulties with starting and stopping movements. The complications of Parkinson’s disease can include those such as trouble with motor functions and losing the ability to speak. At this current time the procedure of deep brain stimulation is used only for patients whose symptoms cannot be adequately controlled with medications.

Approximately 30,000 patients have been treated thought the world with Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson Disease and other conditions. Deep Brain Stimulation uses a surgically implanted, battery-operated medical device called a neurostimulator. A neurostimulator is similar to a heart pacemaker and approximately the size of a stop watch. The neurostimulator delivers electrical stimulation to specifically targeted areas in the brain that control movement. Electrical nerve signals generate the awful symptoms of Parkinson Disease.

The neurostimulator works by blocking the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors and Parkinson Disease Symptoms. Before the procedure, a neurosurgeon uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scanning to identify and locate the target area within the brain. Generally the target areas in the brain are thalamus, sub thalamic nucleus, or Globus Pallidus. The DBS system consists of three components: The lead, the extension, and the neurostimulator.

Each of these structures consists of two parts; one on the left hand side of the brain and one on the right. The lead is a thin insulated wire that is inserted through the small opening in the skull and implanted in the brain. The extension is an insulated wire that is passed under the skin of the head, neck, and shoulder connecting the lead to the neurostimulator. The neurostimulator is the third component and is usually implanted under the skin near the collar bone. Electrical impulses are sent from the neurostimulator up along the extension wire and the lead into the brain.

These impulses block and interfere with the electrical signals that cause Parkinson Disease symptoms. Although Deep Brain Stimulation affects parts of the brain it does not damage healthy brain tissue. After DBS most patients still need to take medication after undergoing the non-surgical procedure, but experience a considerable reduction of their symptoms. After undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation some patients are able to reduce their medications. The reduction in dose of medication leads to a significant improvement in side effects such as dyskinesia.

Researchers are currently comparing Deep Brain Stimulation to other Parkinson Disease therapies to find out which is more effective in treating the symptoms. Although larger studies still need to be done, many researchers believe the new concept of a pace maker in the brain may mark the beginning of a revolution in psychiatric and neurological treatment. Parkinson Disease was the push that helped the start of developing and expanding Deep Brain Stimulation not only for Parkinson Disease patients, but for other individuals that suffer from diseases that can benefit from the new procedure.

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