Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a 24-hour therapy that helps control movement symptoms of Parkinson's, including tremor (shaking), slowed movement, and stiffness. The right time to talk with your doctor about DBS is now – whether you have just been diagnosed or have had Parkinson's for some time. That way, when you notice that you aren’t responding to medications the way you used to, you and your doctor will be ready to determine if DBS is right for you.
DBS uses a small, pacemaker-like device placed under the skin in the chest to send electrical signals to an area in the brain that controls movement. These signals block some of the brain messages that cause the movement symptoms of Parkinson's.
People with DBS therapy may see improvements in quality of life, activities of daily living, movement control, and medication reduction.1 Studies have shown that, compared to medications alone, deep brain stimulation provides additional hours of movement control a day.1
With DBS, some people have been able to continue the everyday things that are important to them—things like dressing and bathing, brushing their teeth, and putting on makeup. And some have been able to continue doing special things like participating in a wedding or family vacation.
People start DBS at the point when medications alone are giving less movement control, or side effects like nausea, dizziness, and unintended movements (dyskinesia) are disrupting their lives. Don't wait too long to ask about DBS. If you wait until medications have no effect, deep brain stimulation may no longer be an option.
Research now shows that deep brain stimulation may be appropriate for people who have had Parkinson's for at least 4 years and at least 4 months of movement symptoms not well controlled by medications or medication side effects such as unintended movements (dyskinesia).2
DBS therapy continues to be appropriate for people in a more advanced stage of Parkinson's disease, and there is no upper age limit restriction.1 However, if you wait until medications have no effect, deep brain stimulation may no longer be an option.
Why wait? Talk to your doctor about DBS therapy before your symptoms are disabling.
This is an example of Parkinson's treatment over time. Your timing may be different. Talk with your doctor about which treatments may be right for you, and when.