When medication alone is no longer enough, many patients turn to Deep Brain Stimulation to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease like tremors, rigidity, and difficulty walking. With early enough intervention, DBS can reduce tremors, increase mobility, and may even allow you to reduce the amount of medication you have to take—giving you freedom from unpleasant side effects.
A DBS system has three parts—stimulator that delivers mild electrical pulses to specialized wires or leads placed precisely in the motor region of your brain, and an insulated wire that connects the two, known as an extension. This short video shows you how these parts are placed in your body.
While there's risk with every surgery, DBS isn't a new therapy, and for many patients with Parkinson's disease, DBS therapy is a normal part of their treatment journey.
More than a quarter century of clinical trials and patient experiences have tested the safety and effectiveness of treating Parkinson's disease with DBS. Hundreds of thousands of patients like you are already experiencing the benefits. Learn more about the clinical evidence supporting DBS.
When you get DBS, you'll work with a team of experts who'll help you understand what to expect at each step, and how you should prepare. Unlike many procedures, DBS occurs in different steps or "phases," so the whole thing can take some time from start to finish, but here's an overview of the key parts of the DBS journey to help you get ready.
The best time to do this is when symptoms are still responding to medications. Begin by finding a Movement Disorder Specialist—a neurologist with special training in treating movement disorders like Parkinson's disease, and by confirming you have health coverage for DBS surgery. Then you'll be ready to take advantage of all your options when it gets harder to control your symptoms.
In this stage, you'll go through a thorough series of screenings to ensure that you're a good candidate for DBS. These may include a neurological consult, ON/OFF testing, a neuropsychological evaluation, a general health screening, brain imaging, and routine lab work.
The first step in the surgical process is to place the leads in the brain. During the surgery, your doctor may perform tests to ensure that the leads are positioned correctly by asking you to move your arms and legs, or make other simple movements. Afterwards, expect to stay in the hospital at least overnight for monitoring.
This is an outpatient surgical procedure that typically happens a week or two after the leads are implanted. When the stimulator is implanted, you'll be under general anesthesia, and the stimulator will be connected to your leads via the extension.
Following your surgery and recovery, your DBS system will be turned on and the stimulation settings will be customized for you. In the months after your device is implanted, you'll work closely with your care team to make adjustments to your stimulation settings and your medications to help best control your symptoms.
Research shows that the optimal time to get DBS is when your medications are just starting to become less effective, but before your medications no longer work. You’ll notice that your medicine doses don’t work until the end of the dose, or you have to start taking medication more often, or your medication begins to cause increased dyskinesia.
The sooner you talk to your doctor about it, you’ll be ready to go when the time is right and not miss the opportunity to receive DBS therapy. Once your movements no longer respond to medication, you are no longer a candidate for DBS.
A common question for those considering DBS is whether or not it will be covered by insurance. Here are some facts you should know:
Boston Scientific can help determine what your insurer may require to get pre-authorization.
If you'd like assistance, please call us at 855-855-4506.
Individual symptoms, situations, circumstances, and results may vary. Please consult your physician or qualified health care provider regarding your condition and appropriate medical treatment. The information provided is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice. For more information on the approved use, risks, and benefits of Boston Scientific's DBS Systems, click here
However, as the needs of your condition change, DBS could become a good treatment option for you. Be sure to have a conversation with a doctor about what treatment options are best for you.
However, as the needs of your loved one's condition change, DBS could become a good treatment option. Be sure to have a conversation with a doctor about what treatment options are best for your loved one.