Parkinson’s is a disease of the central nervous system that is caused when neurons in the midbrain begin to die and levels of dopamine decrease. It is characterized by tremors, muscle rigidity and slow movement, as well as cognitive changes. As a progressive condition, symptoms worsen over time.
Over the past two decades, deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been established as a safe and effective treatment for the reduction of Parkinsonian tremors. Medtronic has been an innovator in DBS treatment and its Activa implant system was the first rechargeable technology on the market globally.
The Medtronic DBS therapy system involves implanting a neurostimulator device in the pectoral area of the patient’s chest. Thin wires, called leads, extend from the neurostimulator to the brain to deliver electrical signals. Those electrical signals help reduce movement symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
One Patient’s Story*
Susan Mollohan, a former high school administrator in Derry, NH, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008. Prior to receiving surgery for DBS, she describes Parkinson’s as a “living death.” “You are still living but you’re watching things die off,” she says. “I had to give up my job — that’s something that died off. My hand would be rigid up against my abdomen and my fingers were like a claw.”
After receiving DBS therapy, Mollohan found her Parkinsonian tremors were greatly reduced and her movements freer. “I have taken up the hobbies of photography, painting and drawing,” says Mollohan. “Deep brain stimulation surgery has given me my life back.”
“It’s pretty stunning what DBS can do for people suffering from tremors,” explains Anna Brenckman, principal marketing manager for deep brain stimulation at Medtronic. “People are able to reclaim their lives as a result of this therapy.”
The DBS therapy improves quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease. However, Medtronic sought to help physicians by making the implant programming process easier and help patients by putting more control over the physician-prescribed therapy into their hands. The company wanted user-friendly devices for both physicians and patients. And, for patients, they also hoped to find a device that allowed treatment to be more discreet.
* The patient quotes recount the experience of an individual who is receiving Medtronic DBS Therapy. Not everyone who receives this therapy will experience the same results. Some people may experience significant symptom relief from DBS Therapy, and others may experience minimal relief. Patients should talk to their doctor to find out if Medtronic DBS Therapy is right for them.