Movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease and essential tremor affect millions of Americans. Unfortunately, due to the little-understood nature of the brain, neurological disorders such as these can be hard to diagnose and treat.
This is why recently developed medical treatments like deep brain stimulation (DBS) are so groundbreaking; it gives hope to patients who previously had few choices, and more is being learned about the beneficial long-term effects of DBS every day.
What is deep brain stimulation?
According to Harry Tamm, MD, a neurologist with HonorHealth Neurology in partnership with Phoenix Neurological Associates, "DBS is a surgical procedure which involves placing electrodes in the brain." The two electrodes are then attached to a device implanted in the patient's upper chest near the collar bone.
How does it work?
The electrodes use electrical currents similar to those generated by a pacemaker to help control abnormal brain impulses. The better controlled the abnormalities are, the fewer uncontrolled physical movements a patient should experience.
"If changes need to be made to the electrodes' output, your doctor can reprogram the electrodes without the need of further surgery," Dr. Tamm said. "Once the leads are properly inserted the patient could see a reduction in tremors, though it will vary depending on the disease being treated."
Doctors will perform a full work up and neurological testing before suggesting the procedure.
"Right now, it's considered an additional treatment beyond medication for certain people with involuntary movement disorders," Dr. Tamm said. "It doesn't replace traditional medical treatment but should be used in conjunction with other therapies."
Early diagnosis of movement disorders is key
DBS works best if you’re experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of movement disorders, and that is why it's important to notice and report possible symptoms to your doctor as soon as you notice them.
Learn more about movement disorders and deep brain stimulation on HonorHealth’s website.