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Deep brain stimulation to treat Parkinson's disease

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Parkinson's disease has no cure but a device is giving patients hope.

"Life was pretty normal, I'd been working for 20-some years, and all of a sudden, one of my coworkers said, 'Why are you holding your arm in such a weird position, like Napoleon Bonaparte?" said Jeffrey Joseph, who 9 years ago got a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease, a disabling condition that robs the body of normal movement causing uncontrollable tremors.

"I thought of myself, you know, what I'm going to do for the rest of my life, how I'm going take care of myself, how I'm going take care of my family?"

A video Jeffrey took serves as a harsh reminder of the toll the disease took on his body.

"My leg cramping would have me stop in the middle of a store and have me freeze, to the point where it was excruciating pain," he said.

But today you can hardly tell Jeffrey has Parkinson's thanks to a deep brain stimulation device, or DBS, that is implanted in his brain.

"This is among the most technologically advanced surgeries that we do in medicine," said Dr. Brian Kopell, a neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Medical Center. He said the device has been around for a while yet it is underutilized.

"This operation is really about making peoples' lives much much better, and and the sooner they get into the operating room, the bigger the benefit that they actually will get," he said.

During the surgery electrodes are placed in the brain and a battery pack is placed in the chest that controls the brain stimulation.

"Essentially, he underwent the implantation of a brain pacemaker for Parkinson's disease," Dr. Kopell said. Afterward there is a period of adjustments before the best results can be seen, he said.

"I say to patients, you know, this isn't about getting you out of the wheelchair, this is about getting you back on the golf course and to see people return to a normal lifestyle or more normal lifestyle, there's nothing like it in the world," he said.

Jeffrey said that DBS turned his life around.

MOUNT SINAI: DBS INFORMATION

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