Deep Brain Stimulation – Tremor & Parkinson’s Disease Control
Deep brain stimulation is an innovative way to control severe tremor or some of the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. This medical device was approved by the FDA in 1997 for treatment of patients with severe tremor that was not controlled by medications. A few years later, it was approved for treatment of Parkinson tremor and dyskinesias (involuntary head, arm and leg movements.) The main deep brain stimulation unit, manufactured by Medtronic, is called Activa Soletra. This is a small pacemaker-like device that is placed under the skin, just under the collar bone. The small electrode wire is then run under the skin, behind the ear and through the skull. The electrode tip is placed in a specific area in the brain that is responsible for tremor and dyskinesia control. A patient may need one or both sides done with a stimulator unit, depending on the severity and nature of their movement disorder. The risk of brain stimulator therapy is low other than at the immediate time of surgery. Once healed, patients can expect fewer side effects from deep brain stimulator therapy than from the several medications they may have to take to control their Parkinson symptoms. It should be noted that the best possible result from brain stimulator therapy will not exceed that of a Parkinson patient’s best response to levodopa therapy. Essential tremor patient’s can generally expect to completely stop medications that they are on for tremor control. Brain stimulator therapy is a safe, scientifically proven method for control of disabling tremor or other limb movements. It does not substitute for Parkinson medication but may help in reducing the amount of medication a patient has to take.