Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery

Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery is generally used to treat movement disorders especially those caused by the Parkinson’s disease. It can treat the symptoms by interrupting the abnormal patterns of brain activity that cause them. Constant pulses of electrical charge are delivered very precisely to the pre-identified parts of the brain.

Here are the most common questions asked about Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery or DBS:

What symptoms does DBS help?
As regards to Parkinson’s disease, Deep Brain Stimulation surgery is known to control a number of symptoms such as tremor or shaking. DBS helps in complete or partial relief of symptoms and also helps with other symptoms such as rigidity and slowness of movements. DBS will abolish off period pain and dystonia (curling of toes and fingers). It also helps to control the dyskinesias (involuntary dancing like movements, being side effect of medicine).

How long do the benefits of DBS last?
Deep Brain Stimulation surgery lasts for many years depending on the condition of the patient. It has been observed that this has worked for over 10 years – of course under close observation and follow up appointments. The DBS settings are rarely changed after the first year of observation. We have patients who even after 15 years of Deep brain stimulation surgery continue to be benefited by DBS.

Are medications continued for Parkinson’s after DBS?
In some patients the medicines can be totally stopped. However, it is important to understand that the Deep Brain Stimulation is not a substitute for medications. It only helps reduce the symptoms. The underlying cause still needs to be treated with medications. If progress is seen in the patient’s condition, the doctor will automatically reduce the dose of these medications.

What if DBS does not work?
Sometimes DBS does not work due to a number of reasons such as improper selection, hardware dysfunction or problems with the programming. If you do not notice any changes in your symptoms after a DBS, within a specified period of time, you will need to contact your doctor immediately. Most of the time the DBS has not worked because the programming is improper or the lead is not placed in the ideal position. In such cases it is important that you choose the most experienced centre to perform DBS. We have reprogrammed several patients of DBS who have not had benefits after being operated at other centres.

Are there any activities that I need to avoid after DBS?
You can return to normal daily life within a few months of surgery, but it is best to avoid neck manipulation, massage or any direct physical contact with the implanted device.

Can I exercise after DBS?
Yes. You can certainly exercise after DBS. It is however recommended that you include low impact exercises after this surgery. Sports and other rigorous exercises need to be completely avoided. It is recommended that you perform light exercise daily as advised by your doctor.

Are there any electrical devices that I need to avoid?
The most basic household electrical equipment is safe to use after a Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery. Some high power industrial machinery could be dangerous though. Some types of MRI could be dangerous and you must inform your doctor about your DBS before undergoing MRI. Before you undergo any other medical procedure, you must inform your doctor about the DBS surgery.

Sometimes, the device may stop working or malfunction if the battery power depletes. You will notice this when your PD symptoms worsen. All you need to do is contact your doctor and get it fixed. The doctor will definitely schedule regular appointments so that such a situation does not arise!

Overall, DBS is a very effective method to reduce symptoms of tremor and movement disorders and return to normal life as soon as possible.