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DBS Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease

15 April 2016

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive, degenerative neurological movement disorder. It is considerably more common in people over 60, but the number of people diagnosed at a younger age is increasing.1

As PD progresses, it becomes increasingly disabling. Many of the symptoms involve motor control, the ability to control your muscles and movement. The four primary symptoms of PD are tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability.

MICK’S STORYMick with wife Jude, daughter Katelyn, partner Ray and newborn granddaughter Isla, photographed at Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Brisbane on 3 February 2015.

At age 32, Royal Australian Navy Chief Petty Officer Mick Sharp started to experience symptoms of PD, but as a young father and not fitting the ‘typical stereotype’ for PD, his difficulties in manoeuvring around the ship were attributed to an ankle injury. Missing these first vital signs of PD sparked a tumultuous 10 year journey toward diagnosis and treatment.

INITIAL TREATMENTS: Mick recalls, “They said it wasn’t physical, it was psychiatric. I spent years on medication that began to not only mask my symptoms, it amplified them. I started to flop around like an untrained seal. Being told this was ‘all in my head’ destroyed me.”

Mick received electro convulsive therapy (ECT) in the hope is would treat his ‘psychiatric disorder’. After a few months Mick and his family moved, and they met a Neurologist who diagnosed PD. “I was shocked but had a huge sense of relief.”

“In the early days the medication worked quite well. Over time, my ‘on window’ [time free of symptoms] became shorter.” Mick continued with medication for seven years.

HOW DBS HELPED MICK: “I first heard about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) around 2007. The thought of people operating on my head wasn’t great, particularly while I was awake. Initially I discounted it as a radical option. As time went on and medication was less effective I thought ‘what do I have to lose’.

“Since having the procedure , my life has totally changed. I feel closer to the man I was at age 32. I don’t require medication, I can drive, go for a walk and I am more independent and spontaneous than ever.”

“I WOULD CLIMB THE HIGHEST TREE AND YELL ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE DBS HAS MADE TO ME” Mick is pleased with his results. “My advice to others with PD is get DBS as soon as you can. It has given me a second shot at life. I might be turning 50 in December this year [2016], but I have two birthdays now. In January, I have my DBS birthday when I turn seven.

WHAT IS DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION (DBS?)Illustration_DBS_2

Just like a pacemaker for the heart, a small device [1] is surgically placed under the skin in the chest to deliver DBS therapy. The device sends electrical pulses through the extension [2] to the leads [3] and electrodes [4] that are placed in an area of the brain that controls movement. These pulses disrupt some of the brain’s messages that cause the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

DBS therapy is reversible and can be discontinued at any time by turning off or surgically removing the device.

Speak with your Healthcare Professional to learn more.

Disclaimer: The patient testimonial relates an account of an individual’s response to the treatment. The response other persons have to the treatment could be different. Responses to the treatment can and do vary; not every response is the same.

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