New Treatment Option for Seniors with Parkinson's

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Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease

By Lesa Hardiman, 9:18 pm on

For aging adults affected by Parkinson’s, deep brain stimulation may be just the solution they’re looking for. Through the use of an impulse generator device similar to a pacemaker, electrical pulses activate areas of the brain linked to symptoms of Parkinson’s and the onset of the disease.

How it Works

Doctors implant an impulse generator device or neurostimulator beneath the collarbone. The device is about the size of a stopwatch. Electrodes are placed on the globus pallidus or subthalamic nucleus portion of the brain and connect to the device via wires. The device sends continuous pulses to the brain as a way to interfere with impulses responsible for Parkinson’s symptoms.

Pateints are able to turn the impulse generator on or off using devices provided to them. The stimulators can last anywhere from three to five years and when they require replacement, a simple procedure can be done to put in new ones.

This treatment offers an alternative to more invasive procedures such as Pallidotomy surgery, which permanently destroys the overactive part of the brain that causes some Parkinson’s symptoms.

Preparation

A family member or Parkinson’s caregiver will have to accompany the senior adult to the doctors for a CT scan or MRI to determine which area of the brain is causing symptoms. The FDA has approved deep brain stimulation to be used in three areas of the brain including the thalamus, which is often targeted for patients with tremors. Surgery under general anesthesia is then required in order to implant the electrodes.

What it Does

It may take aging adults a few weeks to see results, but deep brain stimulation could lessen Parkinson’s symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, impaired movement and difficulty walking.

Only patients whose symptoms are not relieved with medication are eligible to receive the treatment. Typically, seniors must have had symptoms for a minimum of five years.

If your aging loved on has Parkinson’s disease and could use extra in-home senior care in Grand Rapids, contact Home Care Assistance at 616-243-0835.