Electrodes inserted into an area of the brain that plays a critical role in movement can alleviate Parkinson's symptoms
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects a specific area of the brain — the substantia nigra. It can result in tremors, a slowness of movement known as bradykinesia, uncontrollable muscle contractions known as dystonia, and difficulty with walking and balance.
Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is a surgical procedure that’s been used to treat Parkinson’s for more than 20 years. Using magnetic resonance imaging, DBS electrodes are inserted into an area of the brain that plays a critical role in movement — either the subthalamic nucleus or the globus pallidus. A small impulse generator, similar to a pacemaker, is also implanted under the skin of the patient’s chest to provide electrical impulses to the electrodes in the brain. The electrical impulses reduce the patient’s symptoms and improves their ability to move.
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Arizona State University neuroscientist Bradley Greger has teamed up with Barrow Neurological Institute neurosurgeon Dr. Francisco Ponce to evaluate DBS for its possible use in treating other neurological disorders.
For the study, while the DBS electrodes are being implanted, a second, temporary implant is added to identify what’s happening in the brain during DBS treatment. Directly measuring the effect of DBS on brain activity will aid in extending the use of DBS in other neurological disorders.
Barrow Neurological patient Kimball Rogers and his family agreed to be part of the research. They are sharing their experiences to provide other Parkinson’s patients with information about the value of the procedure and the research.
Retired commercial real estate developer Kimball Rogers makes a peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch as his wife, Sharon, looks on, at their Mesa home on July 8, 2019. Kimball was scheduled to receive a deep brain stimulation implant two days later at the Barrow Neurological Institute in hopes of lessening the symptoms of his Parkinson's disease.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Arizona State University neuroscience engineering Associate Professor Bradley Greger (left) visits with Rogers to discuss his upcoming medical procedure.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Dr. Francisco Ponce of the Barrow Neurological Institute at Dignity Health St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix is one of the nation's leading neurosurgeons involved with deep brain stimulation. The procedure involves implantation of electrodes to a target area deep within the brain that is associated with a disorder.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Neurologist Holly Shill takes notes of the DBS settings with Rogers, after the initial testing and calibrating of his deep brain stimulator implant on Aug. 5, 2019. Rogers felt the effects of each of the four neurostimulators as they pulsed with electrical current. He noticed his tense muscles relaxed, and his tremors diminished.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Rogers breaks down as he feels relief from his painful leg cramps for the first time in years, as Dr. Shill tests the deep brain stimulator that Kimball had implanted a month earlier.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Greger (center) speaks with University of Arizona student Ashley Nelson (left) and ASU biomedical engineering doctoral student Dakota Graham inside the Agave Super Computing Lab on ASU's Tempe campus on Sept. 4, 2019. A massive amount of computing power is required for the DBS research data crunching.Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now
Seven weeks after his surgery, Rogers sits at home with three of his 20 grandchildren: Kane, Scottie and Eddie. He says the results of the DBS implant are magnificent, while the side effects have been minimal. The recovery from the surgery, though, has taken more time than he expected.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Top photo: ASU Associate Professor Bradley Greger poses for a portrait in the operating room of St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center on Aug. 8, 2018, in Phoenix. Greger's research and work focuses on neuroscience, bioengineering and data analysis. Photo courtesy of Gary L. Armstrong/St. Joseph Hospital and Medical Center