Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time. Nearly one million people in the US are living with Parkinson’s disease. The cause is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage its symptoms.
Parkinson’s involves the malfunction and death of vital nerve cells in the brain, called neurons. Parkinson’s primarily affects neurons in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra. Some of these dying neurons produce dopamine, a chemical that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. As PD progresses, the amount of dopamine produced in the brain decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.
The specific group of symptoms that an individual experiences varies from person to person. Primary motor signs of Parkinson’s disease include the following.
- tremor of the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face
- bradykinesiaor slowness of movement
- rigidityor stiffness of the limbs and trunk
- postural instabilityor impaired balance and coordination
- The diagnosis of PD depends upon the presence of one or more of the four above motor signs.
Surgical Treatment is DBS Deep Brain Stimulation
During deep brain stimulation surgery, electrodes are inserted into the targeted brain region using MRI and neurophysiological mapping to ensure that they are implanted in the right place. A device called an impulse generator or IPG (similar to a pacemaker) is implanted under the collarbone to provide an electrical impulse to a part of the brain involved in motor function. Those who undergo the surgery are given a controller, which allows them to check the battery and to turn the device on or off. An IPG battery lasts for about 5 to 10 years and is relatively easy to replace under local anesthesia.