DBS Helps Control Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

By: MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

1.5 million Americans live with Parkinson's disease. Symptoms include stiffness, mild tremors, sometimes even complete loss of control. But now, a revolutionary new technology is bringing patients hope, and it's being used at Georgetown University Hospital. Fox5 Allison Seymour introduces us to one woman who says she is cured. How do you feel? Maybe it cured me. You wouldn't know by looking at Ruth Curry that she has Parkinson's disease. I know, isn't it wonderful. She doesn't have of the usual signs of stiffness or tremors.

I forget that I still have Parkinson's. That is until her doctor turns off this little device implanted in her brain. It's called Activa Parkinson's Control Therapy, and it's one of the most significant advances in the treatment of Parkinson's disease in more than 30 years. We implanted an electrode utilizing a special frame that we have in the right side of her brain, to the left side, for the symptoms that she has. A lead with tiny electrodes is surgically implanted in the brain and connected under the skin to a neurostimulator implanted near the collar bone. Continuous stimulation of these areas blocks the signals that cause the disabling motor symptoms of Parkinson's. Dr. Kalhorn then alternates the settings of the stimulator.

What I can actually do with this programmer, is I can, I can temporarily turn off, ah, Ms. Curry's stimulator. Stopping the electrical impulses that go to her brain causing her symptoms to return within minutes. Here it comes. If you feel her arm, you can see her tone is actually increased now compared to where it was before. Ruth allowed us to turn off the device to show her dramatic results for our story. But in most cases, once the device is programmed, it never has to be removed nor shut off. It's just been wildly successful.

I mean, I can't imagine anyone not having it done because it just makes life normal, like everyone else. For Fox5 On Call, I'm Allison Seymour.

DBS Helps Control Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

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