Deep Brain Stimulation Helps Parkinson’s Patients Regain Freedom of Motion
April 1, 2009
Christa Dean Hild
Panama City, FL – Bay Medical is pleased to announce the success of a new surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Neurosurgeon Dr. Joel Franck, who developed a less invasive method of performing Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), has helped six local patients who suffered from uncontrollable tremors and rigidity regain significant freedom of movement and quality of life.
DBS has been offered for many years at university centers as a treatment for the most severe cases of Parkinson’s, however the traditional method of performing the procedure made it a very long and difficult procedure. Patients in Bay and surrounding counties who were candidates for this type of procedure had to travel out of town. Now, Bay Medical is the only hospital in our area to provide DBS and is one of only a few in the entire southeast offering this less invasive method.
Deep Brain Stimulation involves threading an electrode into the brain to the location believed to be causing the abnormal nerve signals that generate the symptoms of movement disorders such as tremors, rigidity and impaired balance. This electrode is then connected to a battery powered generator, much like a pacemaker for your heart, which is implanted under the skin in the chest. This generator sends electrical signals to the brain that control these abnormal impulses and allow patients to reduce their medication while experiencing a significant reduction of their symptoms. Patients who find their medication is no longer effective at controlling their symptoms may be a candidate for this procedure.
Dr. Franck’s method of performing this procedure involves the use of STarFix, a device that is attached to the skull during the procedure to stabilize and guide the lead wires to the correct part of the brain. STarFix, originally designed by Dr. Franck and engineer Ron Franklin, is custom made for each patient based on skull markers placed before the surgery and CT imaging of the brain – ensuring that the device will help guide the surgeon to the correct location. In traditional DBS, a large metal frame is affixed to the patient’s skull and then attached to the operating room table throughout the lengthy procedure. Using STarFix, the customized nature of the device makes the procedure shorter in duration and the patient is awake and able to move during the surgery. Movement is important to allow the surgeon or neurologist to assess the effectiveness of the electrode placement and the electrical frequency being used by asking the patient to perform simple tasks that are commonly very difficult with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Franck’s STarFix invention has been adopted by several teaching institutions around the world and has been used in more than 1,000 cases.