Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a cutting edge treatment for many neurological diseases. It has been proven effective in treating most neurological movement disorders. The treatment works by sending electric shocks to the parts of the brain that control movement. These shocks have a way of turning those areas of the brain off without damage. It stops involuntary movements and helps ease a lot of your symptoms. DBS is so effective because it works for nearly everyone who has a movement disorder, no matter how severe. Sometimes the treatment is temporary, but the strength of each electrical shock can be adjusted. If you are struggling with the symptoms of a movement disorder, DBS may be the best method of treatment for you.
Movement Disorders are one type of neurological disease. Many people struggle with movement disorders either because of genetics or because of trauma to the brain. When it comes to movement, some things move involuntarily, and other things move voluntarily. Our heartbeat and breathing are two involuntary movements. You do not have to think about breathing or your heart beating. It just happens. Most movement with our arms and legs is voluntary. We move it when we want to. When you suffer from a movement disorder, you lose control of your extremities and other areas of the body. Tremors and uncontrolled jerking characterize most movement disorders. Some disorders are mild and may only affect your life slightly, but others are serious and may be life-threatening.
Common Movement Disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Essential Tremors
These are disorders that are characterized by jerks or shaking motions. If you suffer from any of these things, DBS can do wonders for you. DBS may also treat other conditions such as
- Chronic Pain
The brain triggers all three of these conditions. Changing the electric impulses going to the brain can treat these problems.
DBS is implanted through a surgical procedure. DBS works by the use of electrodes and a pacemaker type device. The electrodes are implanted in different parts of the brain. The two primary areas of the brain that affects movement are the thalamus and the globus pallidus. When it comes to movement, the thalamus controls coordination and voluntary movement. The globus pallidus, on the other hand, controls voluntary movements that occur in the subconscious. The electrodes send signals to these two areas specifically. The pacemaker is placed under the skin in the chest area. There is a wire that connects to the electrodes. The pacemaker-like device controls the amount of stimulation sent to these other areas of the brain. The doctor has a remote-like device that controls the stimulation being sent from the pacemaker device. The doctor will increase or decrease the amount of stimulation based on the severity of your symptoms. Although electrical signals are being sent to the brain, you do not typically feel a shock in the body. The process is pretty pain-free and extremely effective.
There are risks with DBS surgery just like any other surgery. Some common risks include bleeding and infection. Since you are placing a device on the brain, you have risks of brain-related problems such as seizures, stroke, and even breathing issues. After surgery, you have to be monitored for side effects. When you are changing the electrical signals in the brain, you can increase headaches and start seizures. Some people struggle with confusion. Pain from implantation is also common. There is a change that the wires on the device or the device itself can erode. Once stimulation begins, you do not typically have any pain sensations. You may notice balance issues, speech issues, and emotional changes. Sometimes a change in electrical impulses change the chemicals in the brain as well. For this reason, there can be mood swings.
When it comes to movement disorders, there are many different forms of treatment. Most neurologists go the route of medicine first. Sometimes medicine works well to control your symptoms. Botox has been very effective in paralyzing the muscles that may cause tremors. DBS is a treatment done as a last resort. DBS is extremely common for those with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s worsens over time and be able to manage the tremors allows you to gain some control back over your life. Some people notice they stop shaking completely. Talking with your physician is the best thing to do before deciding on DBS. It is not for everyone, but it can be the best method of treatment for you.
Deep brain stimulation is a great tool for treating most movement disorders. The majority of movement disorders are incurable. Most people just want some relief; they just want to get their lives back. If you have tried other methods of treatment and nothing is working DBS may be the method for you.
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