Patients living with Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor may be helped by a common surgical technique known as deep brain stimulation, or DBS.
Physicians at Houston Methodist St. John Hospital say DBS can lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease – including tremor, rigidity, stiffness, slowed movements and difficulty walking – and improve a patient’s overall quality of life.
On Wednesday, May 4, the hospital is hosting a free informational seminar on DBS and how it can benefit patients with Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor. The seminar begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Main Lobby at Houston Methodist St. John Hospital, 18300 St. John Drive in Nassau Bay.
The event is open to the public but registration is required. Register online at houstonmethodist.org/events or by phone at 281.333.8899.
“Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders such as essential tremor are debilitating because they take away mobility and the muscle control needed to perform every-day activities,” says Dr. Leanne Burnett, a fellowship-trained movement disorder neurologist at Houston Methodist St. John Hospital.
“This is especially true for patients who don’t respond to traditional medications, or who suffer from severe side effects of medication. Those patients may respond positively to DBS, which can provide a number of therapeutic benefits.”
During the DBS procedure, a neurosurgeon places small electrodes, called leads, in specific areas of the brain that are affected by the disorder. Those leads are attached by thin wires to a battery-powered neurostimulator, which is implanted just under the skin, usually below the collarbone.
Once in place, the neurostimulator is calibrated to send electrical pulses to the leads, which block the abnormal nerve signals in the brain that cause symptoms. The neurologist can program the stimulator to achieve the best effect.
“We can identify exactly where those electrical nerve signals are being generated through the use of magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scanning prior to the procedure,” says Dr. Richard Simpson, a board-certified neurosurgeon at Houston Methodist Neurological Institute. “That allows us to precisely place the leads for maximum benefit. We can also adjust the electrical pulses sent by the neurostimulator to fine-tune the treatment over time.”
Patients on medication for Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor often exhibit side effects that include involuntary movements, called dyskinesia.
“We find that many patients who undergo DBS can reduce the amount of medication they require, which slows or even stops the side effects they are experiencing,” says Dr. Burnett. “So they get relief from their symptoms as well as from the side effects that are common with medication. That combination of benefits can make a significant difference in their ability to handle the daily tasks and activities that we take for granted.”
To find a Houston Methodist St. John Hospital physician, visit houstonmethodist.org/stjohn or call 281.333.8899.