Usually, Parkinson’s Disease patients use medication method to treat the symptoms. But with progression of the disease, the effectiveness of medications slowly drops and/or side effects of the drugs take over. After a certain period, the medications may even stop working at all in some patients. A Neurologist/Movement Disorder Specialist may recommend Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in some patients which can be life changing.
When is the right time for DBS?
The best time to go for Deep Brain Stimulation treatment for Parkinson’s Disease is when the medications are still working.People often make the mistake of choosing DBS treatment when the medications stop working. DBS is of no use if your medications stop working. Research states that DBS may be appropriate for people who have Parkinson’s Disease for at least 4 years or more. It also states that patients who see considerable difference in the effectiveness of medication (motor fluctuations) over a period of 4 months or more should choose Deep Brain Stimulation treatment.
Are You Ready For DBS?
Even if you are at a stage when the treatment is the best option for you, you still may not be ready for it. You need to prepare your body mentally and physically to get ready for the DBS surgery. By preparing at least 3 weeks before DBS surgery, you increase the success rate of the surgery and have lower possibility of complications and risk.
Take Care of other Ailments
It is important to keep your blood glucose level under control in the weeks nearing the surgery date. Monitor your blood pressure and take medications regularly to keep it under control. Any medication which makes your blood thinner should be stopped weeks prior to the surgery. If you have any other complications or ailments, consult your medical professional for the appropriate preparation steps for the surgery.
Stop taking the Parkinson’s Disease medications one or two days prior to the surgery. It is suggested that the treatment is better in the presence of symptoms as the surgeon can easily test the position of electrodes intra operatively. Blood pressure medications can be taken with a sip of water.
Start drinking more water around 2 weeks before the Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. Start eating more fibrous food which helps enhance the brain’s nerves. Many patients resort to alcohol as a relief from pain in Parkinson’s Disease and other symptoms like tremors. But the patient should stop consumption of alcohol at least 4-6 weeks before the surgery so that there are fewer risks of bleeding. Stopping alcohol consumption also helps get better and faster post operative recovery.
Deep Brain Stimulation is not as cheap as one may think. The expenses last both for the surgery and after it. But with right financial preparation, the treatment will not face complications or abrupt lack of funds.There are many medical facilities like insurance and health cards which cover the cost of the treatment.Deep Brain Stimulation is approved by the FDA and some government/public institutions cover some/total cost of the surgery.
Note–Consult your insurance or health card company regarding the things covered for your Deep Brain Stimulation surgery.
Analyze after surgery situation
In Deep Brain Stimulation treatment, electrodes are placed in your brain which is connected through wire to a pacemaker like device placed under the skin of your chest.This device may be slightly visible from the outside too.Medications do not stop even after the surgery but the dosage and frequency reduces drastically. The DBS device runs on battery which may be rechargeable or replaceable. Check for all the maintenance and after surgery costs of the DBS treatment before hand itself.
Get proper assessment done
It is recommended to get your evaluation done before choosing the DBS treatment option for least complications. Your evaluation appointment includes:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain
- A complete movement disorder checkup by a movement disorder specialist
- Balance testing (Computerized testing is recommended to get fast and accurate results)
- Physical and emotional analysis to assess your readiness for the surgery by a neuropsychologist
After getting all these evaluation tests done, a team of medical professionals will discuss your case and analyze the risk factors. Based on the results, it is decided whether you are ready to go through Deep Brain Stimulation surgery or not.
A week before the surgery
You may have to go through several appointments in few weeks before the surgery including:
- A meeting with your anesthesia team and an anesthesiologist
- An MRI of your brain that will help your surgeon place the device
- A pre-surgery medical history
- A physical exam
A day before the surgery
Most of the preparation for the DBS surgery is done one day before itself. Your head will be shaved off. You may be asked to stop the medications which treat tremors which helps place the DBS device in the best possible position.
More than 150,000 people have received Deep Brain Stimulation treatment worldwide for Parkinson’s Disease and many of people benefitted both in treatment of symptoms and improvement in lifestyle. Patients experience benefits as deep brain stimulation improved overall movement by 25%, improved tremor by more than 85%, and improved slowness by 23%, compared to how well they moved with their stimulators off.
Disclaimer – The above provided content is for informational purpose only. Please consult your medical professional before taking any steps.