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How effective is deep brain stimulation for treating Parkinson's disease?

Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease uses a surgically implanted medical device similar to a pacemaker. It delivers electrical stimulation to certain areas of the brain that control movement. This can block the abnormal nerve signals that cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

The device, called an implantable pulse generator (IPG), is placed under the skin, near the collarbone. Wires are inserted through a small opening in the skull and are connected to the IPG, which sends the electrical stimulation through the wires. The device can be reprogrammed depending on a person's response and can be removed if necessary.

Some people who are treated with deep brain simulation find their medicines work better, they have better motor (motion) control and reduced tremors, and they have an improved quality of life.

Deep brain stimulation is brain surgery, however, so there are risks involved including a risk of bleeding. In addition, the batteries within the IPG must be replaced every three to five years with repeated surgery. The best candidates for this procedure are people who have disabling tremors, do not have dementia or severe depression and have a realistic expectation of what this procedure can do.
Deep brain stimulation is a surgical procedure which has been shown to be effective in improving dyskinesia (uncoordinated or jerky movements) and tremor in Parkinson’s disease.  The procedure itself involves implanting an electrode into the areas of the brain that help direct movement.  This therapy is typically used in patients with advanced disease who are inadequately controlled with medications or unresponsive to medications.  Rare risks of the procedure include bleeding in the brain, stroke, and infection.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.