The ETMC Neurological Institute reached a milestone recently by performing its 100th deep brain stimulation procedure. Activa Parkinson's Control Therapy from Medtronic is one of the most significant and innovative advances in the treatment of Parkinson's disease in more than 30 years. The treatment uses Medtronic's "brain pacemaker" technology to relieve the debilitating slowness, impaired balance and coordination, stiffness and shaking that characterize this progressive and degenerative movement disorder, which gradually robs patients of their independence.
The treatment uses two surgically implanted medical devices, similar to cardiac pacemakers, to deliver electrical stimulation to precisely targeted areas within each side of the brain. Continuous stimulation of these areas blocks the signals that cause the disabling motor symptoms of the disease. As a result, many patients achieve greater control over their body movements.
George Plotkin, Ph.D., M.D. who is a neurologist at the ETMC Neurological Institute and Director of the Movement Disorder Center says, "Deep brain stimulation is a major breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, because up until this point, patients relied on medications that over time may not control their symptoms and produce significant side effects."
Terry Bowers, 51 of Tehuacana, Texas suffered from Parkinson's disease for many years before seeking out deep brain stimulation. Before the surgery Bowers would freeze or had to use the aid of a walker or cane. Now Bowers can walk without assistance. He says the differences in his life are amazing. "I can get outside, talk to people, see my garden, not trapped inside my living room. I feel human again, it's been wonderful, I can see myself not having Parkinson's anymore."
Mark Renfro, M.D., neurosurgeon, with the ETMC Neurological Institute performed the surgery. "We implanted two thin wires called "leads" into the brain and then connected the leads down into the neck and upper chest to a neurostimulator. This device is implanted beneath the skin in the chest and produces electrical pulses that are delivered to the brain."
Parkinson's disease afflicts an estimated one million Americans. The average age of onset is 60 years old.
Essential Tremor also responds well to deep brain stimulation.
Essential tremor is a very complex neurologic movement disorder. ET usually affects the hands, but it may also affect the head and neck (causing shaking), face, jaw, tongue, voice (causing a shaking or quivering sound), the trunk and, rarely, the legs and feet.
As many as one in five people over 65 may have ET. There may be more than 5 million people with ET in the United States, and many more worldwide.