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What To Expect From Deep Brain Stimulation

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Patients who have abnormal signals in the brain can suffer from diseases such as Parkinson's disease. If this is the case, these signals need to be stopped to reduce or eliminate symptoms associated with the disease. Fortunately, there is a way to accomplish this through deep brain stimulation, a procedure that a neurological surgery center may perform.

Blocking Harmful Signals

Deep brain stimulation involves the placing of electrodes deep within the brain. The electrode is connected to an impulse generator. The generator emits pulses that block the harmful signals that are sent to create the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. 

Replacing Medication

This treatment is not always used to treat Parkinson's disease. In the early stages of the disease, it is more effective to treat it through medication. However, as years pass, the medication becomes less effective and causes more side effects. At some point, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a deep brain stimulation.

Knowing What to Expect

While this might seem like a big surgery, it is actually minimally invasive. There are risks to any form of brain stimulation, though, and there might be side effects associated with deep brain stimulation. The device will not be turned on right away. When it is time to turn it on, the neurologist will need to find the right settings for you.

Controlling the Device

In addition to having the settings tuned for you, the device also allows you to turn the signals on and off if necessary. The device is powered by a battery that can last as long as five years before needing to be replaced.

Anticipating the Surgery

The surgery requires that you be awake. The surgeon needs to assess brain functions during the surgery. Local anesthesia is used to minimize the pain associated with the surgery. When the electrode is inserted into the brain, the patient does not experience pain because the brain does not have the ability to transmit pain signals. However, there have been some efforts to develop methods of performing this surgery on patients who are asleep so they don't have to experience the surgery.

Mapping Out the Brain

Surgeons are able to use computerized brain mapping to find out which part of the brain generates nerve signals that cause Parkinson's disease symptoms. Imaging and recording equipment can map the structure and function of the brain. Then, your doctor can place you on the road to managing your symptoms and living a better life.