NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s an exciting new development in the treatment of severe Parkinson’s disease.
It’s electrical stimulation of the brain called DBS.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Tuesday, the treatment has been around for some time, but new advances in electronics has made it much more effective.
Gomez recently saw an advanced Parkinson’s disease patient that was no longer helped by medications. His uncontrollable tremors made even standing or walking nearly impossible without assistance.
Then he saw the same patient and a remarkable difference due to the activation of deep brain stimulation electrodes, called DBS.
“So, in essence, the DBS is a is a pacemaker for the brain,” said Dr. Brian Kopell of Mount Sinai West.
Kopell, director of the Neuromodulation Center at the hospital, is one of the first surgeons in the country to use a new DBS system known as “Sen-Sight.”
It incorporates several important advances over present DBS systems. First, the patient can get MRI scans with the implant, but just as importantly is that the brain electrodes are directional.
“The brain is not a homogenous, you know, even organ. There are different pieces of anatomy around the electrodes. And so, it gives us the ability to use the patient’s specific anatomy to alter the stimulation and get a better result for patients,” Kopell said.
But perhaps most exciting is that as the electrodes stimulate the specific brain areas that help curb the Parkinson’s symptoms, the electrodes also monitor brain signals and send back information to the controller that can then be used to fine-tune the brain stimulation to achieve even better control.
Soon, that feedback will allow the re-programming to happen as the patient’s condition fluctuates in real time. This DBS is a significant alternative for patients for whom medications aren’t working or causing serious side effects.
Amazingly, by changing where the electrodes are implanted, deep brain stimulation, DBS, can also be used to treat other types of tremor, obsessive compulsive disorder, chronic pain and even depression.