In the February, 2013, issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, it is reported that early studies may show Parkinson’s patients will, indeed, benefit from early surgical treatment known as deep brain stimulation. Because my grandmother lives with severe symptoms of Parkinson’s, I am often intrigued by studies like this and how it will impact our lives.
Deep Brain Stimulation, DBS, is an invasive surgical procedure that works to reduce the motor movement complications associated with severe Parkinson’s disease. Because the progression of this disease can lead to issues associated with decreased daily living and mobility, treatments beyond medication therapy are often considered. For patients early in the disease process, however, there may be a therapeutic benefit.
For patients like my grandmother, who live with a very progressive Parkinson’s disease complication, DBS is often recommended. But, for younger patients, physicians typically do not recommend the surgery when medication therapy is effective. For these patients, however, there are study results that show there may be as much as a 26 percent increase in quality of life. In addition, early use of Deep Brain Stimulation surgery may also reduce the side effects of medications and provide a life that is more mobile for the Parkinson’s patient.
While there are some health risks associated with this type of surgery, it is always recommended that patients inquire about the use of treatment early in the onset of Parkinson’s complications. While your doctor may not encourage the surgery, studies are showing they can be effective. For patients like my grandmother, surgery is more realistically taking place but may be too late for some of these sufferers.
Weighing the risks and benefits of Deep Brain Stimulation, at any point in the Parkinson’s progression, will help to ensure that your symptoms are managed more effectively. If you find that your physician is adamant about not performing such a procedure early in your disease process, then you may want to seek out a second opinion. For some patients, this could be make the difference in longevity but, even more importantly, may improve quality of life for any patient who is struggling to manage symptoms with medication therapy.
New England Journal of Medicine
University of Pittsburgh Deep Brain Surgery
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