Podcast Episode 72: What is Deep Brain Stimulation?

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Among the treatments for Parkinson’s disease (PD), the most common are medications, which can work well up to a point. But when motor symptoms are not adequately controlled with drugs, deep brain stimulation (DBS) may be an option. Using electrodes placed in the brain, an implantable pulse generator (IPG) placed in the chest or abdomen, and a wire that connects the two, this system targets electrical currents to precise structures within the brain to block the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremor and other motor symptoms.

Originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997 to treat PD tremor, DBS approval was extended to treating advanced PD symptoms in 2002, and in 2016, to earlier stages of the disease when drugs wear off too quickly or other motor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, stiffness, or slowness of movement become disabling. However, DBS is not a cure for PD, does not prevent its progression, and is, in fact, brain surgery. In this podcast, Dr. Nader Pouratian, Professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Neurosurgical Movement Disorders Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, discusses how DBS works, what benefits it can and cannot provide, who may be good candidates for it, possible complications, and what’s ahead.

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About This Episode

Released: January 14, 2020

Nader Pouration, MD, PhD

BKlugerDr. Nader Pouratian is Professor and Vice-Chair of Academic Affairs in the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery. He is the Chief of Functional Neurosurgery and director of the Neurosurgical Movement Disorders Program. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American Society of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery. At UCLA, he works with a multidisciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, psychologists and other experts to provide the best care for each patient, be it medical or surgical. His research aims to use advanced brain mapping techniques to develop, improve, and optimize surgical treatments for neurological and psychiatric diseases. His research spans developing therapies for Parkinson disease, essential tremor, disorders of consciousness, chronic pain, and blindness. He leads and is involved in a number of clinical trials, is the principal investigator for 6 grants from the National Institutes of Health, and works collaboratively with other neurosurgeons, neurologists, and industry to advance the field. He has published over 150 original scientific reports. He is internationally recognized, speaking around the world on advancing the care of patients that can benefit from neurosurgical procedures. But most of all, he is dedicated to delivering the best possible care to each patient.

For more insights on this topic, listen to our podcast episodes “Non-pharmaceutical Treatments for PD: DBS and Focused Ultrasound” and "Tremors: Coping & Treatment Options."

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For all of our Substantial Matters podcast episodes, visit parkinson.org/podcast.

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