Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's Disease, Essential Tremor and Dystonia

Northwestern Medicine is a premier destination for the treatment of movement disorders, and offers deep brain stimulation (DBS) as a treatment option for patients with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor and dystonia. The Neuromodulation and Functional Neurosurgery Program  specialists collaborate in integrated teams to provide patients with a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach patient care.

Deep brain stimulation delivers high frequency electrical stimulation to precise areas of the brain, thereby reorganizing the abnormal signals that result in the symptoms caused by the illness.

How Does DBS Work?

DBS delivers high-frequency electrical stimulation to precise areas of the brain to block the faulty signals that cause tremors and other movement symptoms.

During the surgical procedure, an electrode is placed inside the brain, which is connected to a very small neurostimulator (electrical generator) implanted in the chest or abdomen. Electric current is then delivered from the neurostimulator through the electrode to the targeted area of brain tissue, to block the faulty signals that cause the symptoms.

This treatment can be effective in treating tremors, stiffness, walking difficulties, slowed movement and extra movements. Although DBS doesn't cure the underlying neurological condition, it may control symptoms effectively for many years and allow patients to decrease the amount of medications they need, ultimately helping them get back to their everyday life.

In the case of Parkinson’s disease, two brain regions have been identified where DBS is appropriate: the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and the internal segment of the globus pallidus (GPi). In essential tremor, the ventral intermediate nucleus (Vim) of the thalamus is the optimal target. In dystonia, the preferred target is the GPi. Although DBS is not curative, in most cases it can control Parkinson’s symptoms very effectively for many years.

When is it time to consider DBS?

DBS should be considered when symptoms are progressing and becoming more difficult to manage, and when medications do not adequately control symptoms. At Northwestern Medicine, we can help patients and their care teams decide when and if DBS is the right course of treatment.

These initial considerations in Parkinson's patients may help to determine if DBS could be the right option for you:

  1. Medications are not adequately controlling symptoms, despite the best efforts to optimize treatment
  2. Medications meant to control symptoms result in side effects such as dyskinesias (involuntary extra movements), psychiatric problems or other complications
  3. Motor fluctuations and unreliable responses to medications begin to interfere with quality of life

Your DBS team is comprised of neurologists with specialized training in movement disorders, functional neurosurgeons, neurophysiologists, DBS nursing specialists, neuropsychologists, social workers and rehabilitative therapists, who combine efforts to achieve a maximum functional outcome for each individual patient. The team can help you decide when and if DBS is the right course of treatment for you.

Meet the Teams

The Northwestern Medicine Deep Brain Stimulation specialists at work in integrated teams to provide patients with a multidisciplinary approach to their neurologic care. Meet the Teams
Downtown Chicago
Western Suburbs

Appointments

If you are interested in learning more about Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, please call 630.933.4056 and request to leave a message with our DBS Coordinator.

If you are interested in learning more about Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson's disease, essential tremor and dystonia at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.695.8143.

Locations Performing this Treatment

Related Resources

Deep Brain Stimulation Brochure: Find out if deep brain stimulation is right for you.