News Release

March 2, 2004

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

Deep Brain Stimulation Relieves Common Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

UConn Health Center Only Site in Connecticut Offering DBS Surgery

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, has been shown to significantly control tremors, sluggish movement, rigidity and impaired coordination, the most frustrating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. The relatively new procedure is now available at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

“DBS can help Parkinson’s patients with moderate to advanced Parkinson’s disease return to a better quality of life,” said Health Center neurologist Joy Antonelle deMarcaida, M.D. “At these stages of the disease, medications usually provide only a few hours of relief from symptoms after each dose,” she said. “This limits what patients can do during the course of the day, because these fluctuations can leave them immobile for up to an hour.”

The surgical procedure involves channeling electrodes implanted in the brain to a pair of devices called pulse generators that are placed in the upper right and left sides of the chest, explained UConn Health Center neurosurgeon Ahmed Khan, M.D.

Each implant is then programmed to send high frequency electrical charges to a specific part of the brain. By placing a programming device on the chest, over the pulse generator, Dr. deMarcaida, can monitor and change the parameter settings to reach optimum relief for the patient.

“Sometimes the programming will work right away. When the symptoms are very obvious, for example tremors, we can see improvement immediately,” she said. “However for the symptoms of slow movement and stiffness, some fine tuning may be required to achieve maximum results.”

Parkinson’s disease affects about one in every 100 people, most aged 65 and over. “We don’t know what causes Parkinson’s, but we know that it results in cells deteriorating and is irreversible. We can only treat the symptoms, since we have not found the cure.” said Dr. deMarcaida. “You don’t die from Parkinson’s disease; you die with it.”

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