One of the common ailments in elderly people is Parkinson’s. A progressive disorder, when left untreated, worsens the symptoms. Hence, it is essential to understand the treatment options available to manage the condition effectively. You may be suggested surgical therapies if medication is not effective enough to treat the symptoms.
Surgical treatment options can be beneficial for patients who are suffering from symptoms, but they do not help with treating the disease. In the past, surgical methods like Thalamotomy and Pallidotomy were used to destroy brain cells that contributed to the symptoms. While these methods are still used, they are very rare and situational.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), an FDA-approved procedure, has become much more popular as it is much safer and does not involve invasive surgery. Instead of destroying brain cells like traditional methods, DBS involves sending electric pulses to the affected brain cells to reduce the symptoms. It is not a treatment procedure, but a means of bringing down the severity of Parkinson’s to allow better and more comfortable treatment.
Deep Brain Simulation – Who are the right candidates?
Deep Brain Simulation is commonly used for Parkinson’s disease, but it is not recommended for everyone. It is a preferred method of treatment for people who have had Parkinson’s for at least four years but have complications which include long periods of time where medications do not work, symptoms return, uncontrolled and involuntary movements or the freezing/stiffness in the body
Deep Brain Simulation is not recommended for those who have Dementia as it can lead to memory problems. The general rule of thumb that neurosurgeons follow is that Deep Brain Simulation can help with symptoms that do not get better with medication. DBS can help reduce medication requirements for patients as well as reduce the side effects that may occur due to medication.
Disorder specialists and neurosurgeons can conduct tests to determine if DBS will be effective for a patient before proceeding with such a procedure. An extensive assessment is necessary to understand the symptoms, the effect of Parkinson's drugs, and also brain imaging is done. All of the expected benefits are then evaluated for the patients, and if the procedure can help alleviate the symptoms, DBS is given a green signal by neurosurgeons and patients can undergo the procedure.
How Does Deep Brain Simulation Work?
Deep Brain Simulation is a very complex procedure. Brain cells communicate with the rest of the body through electric signals, and these become irregular and do not work properly when affected by Parkinson's. DBS smoothens the functioning of these brain cells and reduces symptoms through electric pulses through the implantation of a medical device known as a neurostimulator which is also referred to as a brain pacemaker.
But, as with any treatment procedure, DBS has potential risks and side effects, hence discuss with the neurosurgeon thoroughly to assess the suitability.