Amazing Deep Brain Stimulation results for Parkinson's sufferer
The NeuroMedical Centre in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has posted an incredible video of a man's response to Deep Brain Stimulation in an attempt to mitigate his severe tremors, caused by Parkinson's Disease.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a surgical procedure used to treat a variety of neurological symptoms, including tremors, rigidity and stiffness and slowed movement - particularly common amongst Parkinson's sufferers - as well as epilepsy, Tourette's syndrome, chronic pain and obsessive compulsive disorders.
The procedure involves implanting electrodes into certain sections of the brain, which then produce electrical pulses to regulate abnormal brain functions. Alternatively, the electrical pulses can affect certain cells and chemicals in the brain to mitigate symptoms. The degree of electrical stimulation applied to the brain is regulated by a neurostimulator - a pacemaker-like device - implanted under the skin of the upper chest. A wire underneath the skin connects this 'brain pace-maker' to the electrodes in the brain.
The video shows the patient, known as Mr Richardson, experiencing his new DBS system being activated for the first time. At the beginning of the video, Mr Richardson's tremors are severe - it is hard to imagine that he can hold a glass of water without assistance or major spillage. Once his implants are switched on, however, within moments his tremors ease almost to the point of nonexistence. A doctor is overheard asking 'How do you feel?' and Mr Richardson simply says 'I feel a lot better!' He then demonstrates that he can now tap each of his fingers against his thumb in rapid succession without any real trouble at all - something which would undoubtedly have caused him serious problems before.
It is estimated that roughly 6.3 million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson's disease - an enormous number of people who could benefit from what appears to be an extremely effective treatment: on NMC's Facebook post sharing this video, a comment below claims to be from Mr Richardson's daughter, Ms Folks. She shares her joy at her father's recovery and explains that he received the procedure around a year ago, and is still experiencing relief from his tremors. Careful to point out that there is no true cure for Parkinson's and that her father does still experience symptoms, Ms Folks says that his tremors are 'greatly reduced'.
DBS is also being explored as a possible treatment for major depression, stroke recovery, addiction and dementia.