Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical treatment option that uses electrical impulses to manage the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremors, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movement and difficulty in walking due to balance problems. Dystonia (involuntary muscle contractions) and essential tremor may also be treated with DBS. Doctors may recommend DBS to patients who have not seen improvements in their symptoms with medication therapy alone. Patients who experience side effects after long-term medication use may also be potential candidates for DBS.

Deep Brain Stimulation

DBS involves surgically placing electrodes in a specific region of the brain. These electrodes are attached to a neurostimulator (a pacemaker-like device the size of a stopwatch) that sends low-level electrical pulses to the brain, disrupting faulty signals that cause tremors or other movement symptoms. These electrical pulses alter the brain’s circuitry, blocking the abnormal activity that causes movement disorders. Usually the device is implanted under the skin below the collarbone, but it could also be placed underneath other areas of the chest.

Unlike older treatments, DBS doesn’t damage healthy brain tissue by destroying nerve cells. If a new treatment or cure is developed in the future, patients who opt for DBS now may still be eligible for whatever that new treatment might be.

Although DBS comes with certain complications, some patients and doctors believe that regaining control of body movements outweighs potential risks, many of which are manageable.

Have A Question About DBS?