Increased access to deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s patients

Haider Nayani / February 5th, 2019

Parkinson’s symptoms impact the motor system, interrupting normal patterns of movement. (labiotech.eu)

There are 70 British Columbians currently on a wait list for Deep Brain Stimulation, and today they received some promising news. The province announced that the number of people who will receive DBS to treat Parkinson’s Disease will increase to 72. This is double the amount of procedures that were performed 2 year ago. Dr. Gary Redekop from the department of surgery at UBC praised the move.

“For patients with Parkison’s disease who live with it every day, whose symptoms are not controlled by medication..DBS is life changing. It’s life changing for the patients, it’s life changing for their families, they reintegrate into normal life, and they move on.” – Dr. Gary Redekop, Head, Department of Surgery, UBC

Parkinson’s is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, which primarily attacks the motor system. Uncontrollable shaking, slowness and a difficult time walking are all early symptoms.

As the disease advances, cognitive problems can also begin. Oftentimes, depression and anxiety can also develop. There is currently no cure, and when medications are ineffective, patients can turn to Deep Brain Stimulation.

An x-ray of a patient undergoing deep brain stimulation. (wikipedia)

In DBS, electrodes are implanted in the brain, and target specific areas which control motor function. Electrical pulses are delivered via the electrodes to these areas. It is thought that DBS interferes with the abnormal electrical signaling in the brain which contributes to Parkinson’s.

Though DBS can be quite effective in not only treating Parkinson’s, but also dystonia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and epilepsy, it is not without potential complications, such as hallucinations, cognitive dysfunction and infection.

Minister of health Adrian Dix says the new program will be established at UBC hospital and will see increased operating room time as well as an additional neurosurgeon currently being recruited.