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Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s disease

Posted at 12:39 PM, May 15, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-15 14:39:35-04

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects a region of the brain called the substantia nigra, which causes this area to degenerate. Over time, the brain loses dopamine, a chemical neurotransmitter that helps brain cells involved in motor control communicate with each other. Reduction in dopamine levels leads to tremors in the body—an obvious physical characteristic of Parkinson’s disease.

Traditionally, patients with this disease were prescribed a medication called Levodopa. Although Levodopa is effective for the first few years of treatment, over time this medication often results in severe uncontrollable movements. Deep brain stimulation is ideal for patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease.

What is deep brain stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation involves one or two devices called neurostimulators to deliver electric stimulation to precisely targeted areas of the brain that control movement. The electric stimulation blocks abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors and other Parkinson’s disease symptoms.

Deep brain stimulation systems consist of three components:

-The lead, or electrode, which is a thin wire that is inserted through a small opening in the skull and implanted in the brain. The tip is positioned within the target area of the brain

-The extension is an insulated wire that passes under the skin of the head, neck, and shoulder, connecting the lead to the neurostimulator.

-The neurostimulator, or battery, is implanted under the skin near the collarbone or in the lower chest or abdomen.

Once the devices are implanted, the patient receives a programmer so they can turn the neurostimulator on or off.