Come to a Seminar a Free Seminar About Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease!

By Annette Pinder

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a movement disorder that develops gradually and worsens over time. While a tremor is the most common sign, PD also causes stiffness or slowing of movement. Those affected may show little facial expression, arms that don’t naturally swing while walking, and soft or slurred speech. Another common movement disorder that involves just tremor, not the other bothersome symptoms of PD, is Essential or familial tremor (ET). Symptoms are often mild and can worsen with age. There is currently no cure, and medications may help but have side effects, and often do not reduce tremor.

According to the National Parkinson’s Foundation, 42 million people in the U.S. suffer from some type of movement disorder, and one million live with PD. Yearly, 60,000 are diagnosed, and thousands more are undetected. PD’s incidence increases with age, with men one and a half times more likely to get it than women.

According to UB Neurosurgery and UB Neurology physicians, “When medicines stop working, which is common after a period of time, deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a surgical option that helps PD and ET. DBS uses a surgically implanted, battery-operated implantable pulse generator (IPG) similar to a heart pacemaker, about the size of a stopwatch, to deliver electrical stimulation to the brain.

Prior to the procedure, with the patient awake, the neurosurgeon uses MRI imaging and CT scanning to locate the exact target that requires stimulation, inserting a small wire in the brain that monitors nerve cell activity. These areas are typically the thalamus for ET and subthalamus for PD. A thin, insulated wire inserted through a small opening in the skull is implanted in the brain. The tip of the electrode is positioned, and the extension is an insulated wire passed under head, neck, and shoulder skin, connecting the lead to the IPG. The IPG is implanted under the skin near the collarbone, and electrical impulses are sent along the extension wire and lead into the brain to block abnormal electrical signals. There is minimal chance that placement of the stimulator may cause bleeding or infection in the brain.

Not everyone is a candidate for DBS. It is estimated that 15-20 percent of people with PD or ET could benefit. For Charles Burton of Brocton, New York, the results have been miraculous. After being tortured by PD for years, his body was finally at peace following DBS. Watching Charles smile broadly as he strutted down his doctor’s hall wearing a suit for the first time in 11 years brought tears to all who watched. See a video of Charles’ miraculous transformation at

Come to a free seminar to learn about DBS, presented by Assaf Berger, MD and Daniel Sirica MD, of UBMD Neurosurgery and UBMD Neurology on September 19, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm, at Amherst Senior Center, 370 John James Audubon Parkway, Buffalo 14228. Register at or call 315-382-7511 for help registering.