Medtronic invited this patient to share his story candidly. Not everyone who receives Medtronic DBS Therapy will receive the same results as this individual. Some people may experience significant symptom relief from DBS Therapy, and others may experience minimal symptom relief. DBS Therapy is not for everyone, so it's important to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks.
When Prakash, an energetic CEO and business owner, was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he decided he would live as fully as he could for as long as he could.
He swam, gardened, and led his company. But as years went by, Prakash's medications became less effective. He said the time each day that he didn't have symptoms shrank 95 percent to 20 percent.
"I used to hide when the symptoms were bad. I took no meetings, and pretended I was working."
Prakash sold his company. He rarely left the house.
At the time, his wife Kamala, his primary caregiver, was having chemotherapy for breast cancer.
She showered and dressed him and helped him to the bathroom. Before bed, she set her alarm to wake her every few hours, so she could turn Prakash and make him more comfortable.
Prakash knew the situation had become unmanageable, and he needed to do something. Also, their son was getting married soon, and Prakash was determined to be an active part of the celebration — not just a spectator.
He went on the hunt for other treatments. Through his Parkinson's support group, he learned about deep brain stimulation, and he decided to look into it.
Prakash's doctor said he was a good candidate for DBS. His sons advised him to stick to the medications, but Prakash felt he was ready for DBS — and that the outcome would be worth the risk.
Prakash's surgical team placed his leads first. Then, a few weeks later, they placed a neurostimulator on either side of his chest, just below his collarbone. For each procedure, Prakash spent one night in the hospital.
After the surgery, he had some brain swelling. Sometimes he felt sleepy, or his speech didn't make sense. Kamala, who was used to her husband being feisty, animated, and articulate, was alarmed at first. Prakash went back to the doctor to have the programming adjusted, which minimized side effects while best controlling his symptoms.
Prakash also had a lingering condition that caused his eyelids to shut abnormally, which he treats with injections.
Implanting DBS Therapy carries the same risks associated with any other brain surgery. This may include serious complications such as coma, bleeding inside the brain, seizures, and infection. Some of these may be fatal. Once implanted, the system may become infected, parts may wear through your skin, and the lead or lead/extension connector may move. Medtronic DBS Therapy could stop suddenly because of mechanical or electrical problems. Any of these situations may require additional surgery or cause your symptoms to return.
Medtronic DBS Therapy may cause worsening of some motor symptoms associated with your movement disorder, and may cause speech and language impairments. The stimulation may be adjusted to minimize side effects and achieve maximum control of your symptoms. In patients receiving Medtronic DBS Therapy, depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide have been reported. Occurrence of falls has also been reported in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Prakash had thought his active life was over — until Medtronic DBS helped him reclaim it.
"Everything about the outcome has been positive," Prakash said, but he wishes he’d learned about deep brain stimulation sooner, before his symptoms progressed so much.
A couple weeks after his surgery, Prakash and Kamala (now cancer-free) made several trips across the US to visit friends, relatives, and colleagues.
Three months after his surgery, they flew to India for their son's wedding. Prakash coordinated food preparation along with lodging, drop-off, and pick-up for many of their guests.
"He participated in all the activities — dancing, socializing, organizing," Kamala said. "Relatives, who did not know he was sick, did not notice anything unusual about him. As far as they were concerned, he was healthy and normal."
Prakash is no longer embarrassed to attend board or committee meetings. He goes for swims, long walks, and dinners with Kamala. And he's hoping to start a work project.
"I have to do something productive," he says, "or else I'll go crazy!"