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Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for Parkinson’s Disease: How it Works

Almost 90,000 Americans receive a diagnosis of the progressive neurologic condition Parkinson’s disease (PD) each year, and by 2030, it’s estimated that 1.2 million Americans will be living with Parkinson’s. 

PD manifests physically and cognitively, and the goals of treatment for this incurable condition are to relieve symptoms and slow their progression.

At Houston Neurological Institute, our team of expert providers creates treatment plans for Parkinson’s patients that are customized to their needs and include the latest advanced modalities available. Getting Parkinson’s symptoms under better control increases a patient’s quality of life, and it offers relief to both them and their loved ones. 

The challenges of Parkinson’s disease

Often, Parkinson’s disease reveals itself subtly. Rather than an onslaught of startling symptoms, a person might note a slight tremor in one hand initially. In addition to tremors — rhythmic shaking movements that are involuntary — other PD symptoms include:

Movement problems are typically related to the issue of moving more slowly, known as bradykinesia

A person living with Parkinson’s can grapple with a wide range of other problems, such as depression, anxiety (especially about the future and how their condition may change), memory difficulty and dementia, sleep issues, bladder and constipation problems, and an altered sense of smell. You may also experience problems with chewing and eating in the later stages of PD, which can make it difficult to stay properly nourished.

In addition, living with Parkinson’s disease can cause you to feel dizzy unexpectedly, as it can lead to blood pressure changes; become tired more easily; and feel pain in different parts of your body. 

The cause of Parkinson’s disease isn’t known, but risk factors for it include being 60 or older, having a close relative with Parkinson’s, and being male. It’s also thought that higher-than-average exposure to pesticides and herbicides may raise a person’s risk somewhat. 

An innovative Parkinson’s disease treatment

Houston Neurological Associates offers an important surgical Parkinson’s disease treatment called deep brain stimulation (DBS) that’s appropriate for patients who haven’t been helped by medication. 

During your procedure, your provider implants electrodes into certain areas of your brain, such as those that control movement, with guidance from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology. 

Then, they implant a device — similar to a pacemaker —  called an implantable pulse generator (IPG) under your collarbone or in your abdomen, which directs electrical stimulation to the parts of your brain housing the electrodes. This stimulation assists in correcting wayward nerve signals that cause life-altering Parkinson’s symptoms like severe tremors, slowed movement, walking issues, and rigidity. 

You’re also provided with another small device that you can use to turn the IPG on or off, and monitor its battery. 

Since we’re deeply committed to providing the highest caliber care to our patients living with Parkinson’s disease, we realize that the condition doesn’t just impact the patient, it affects their families as well. This is why we welcome family members, if the patient wants them to be present, during DBS programming sessions. 

Everyone at Houston Neurological Institute is deeply invested in treating our patients living with Parksinon’s disease with respect and compassion. We also offer a variety of oral and intravenous medications. Patients who receive IV therapy can come to our on-site treatment suite, where they can relax comfortably while getting their medication infusion. 

If you’ve experienced what you feel may be Parkinson’s disease symptoms, or if you’ve been diagnosed and need ongoing treatment, we’re here to help. Call our Pearland or Pasadena office to schedule an appointment, or book one with us online.

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