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Deep Brain Stimulation Gets Personal

Richie DBS_blog

While deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been used to treat PD for over 20 years, new advances in the technology are helping make it more personalized to improve quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s. The procedure involves surgically implanting electrodes in the brain, so electrical pulses can be delivered at certain rates to control tremor and other disabling motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Until now, adjusting settings after surgery has been time-consuming, taking months to optimally control symptoms. In-person visits with a doctor ensured the device continued to work properly and monitored battery life. “It took about two years of going in every month or so for a different tweaking of the DBS settings,” says Richie Rothenberg, MJFF Patient Council member who had the DBS procedure in 2011.

Recently, two devices have improved the programming of the DBS systems after surgery, requiring fewer doctor’s visits and more personalized control of symptoms. Abbott’s Infinity DBS allows people to video chat with their doctors and receive adjustments remotely, at home or any location with WiFi or cellular access. Another system, Medtronic’s Percept, records brain activity automatically, so doctors can adjust DBS settings to control specific symptoms based on the data collected.

To develop the next step in DBS – a system that adjusts its stimulation automatically based on brain activity — MJFF is funding a team at the University of California, San Francisco. This “adaptive” DBS could potentially sense a person’s individual brain signals and deliver therapy as needed when those signals indicate medication wearing off or dyskinesia, for example.

MJFF also has funded the Registry for the Advancement of Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease (RAD-PD) to learn how different people respond to DBS over time. The aim is to capture data directly from a large group of individuals, and their doctors, to find clues that improve DBS treatment procedures and patient outcomes. Launched in the fall of 2018, the registry has 10 participating centers and plans to activate 10 additional centers across Canada and the United States. As research continues, DBS may offer many more people living with Parkinson’s a way to take control of their disease.

Join us for our Third Thursdays Webinar on June 17, 2021 at 12:00pm to learn about “Deep Brain Stimulation: Is It Right for Me or My Loved One?” Our experts will discuss who should consider deep brain stimulation, how the procedure works, what someone may expect after the surgery, and the latest advancements in DBS research. Bring your questions for our experts! Register now.

To learn more, download MJFF’s guide on Deep Brain Stimulation and Parkinson’s.

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