What is Deep Brain Stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a treatment used to reduce tremor and block involuntary movements in patients with motion disorders including Parkinson’s Disease, essential tremor, dystonia, and multiple sclerosis. It has been helping people with Parkinson’s for more than 10 years and over 100,000 people have received DBS treatment.

We are the only hospital on the Seacoast, one of only two in New Hampshire, to offer deep brain stimulation for patients with tremor and motion disorders.

How does Deep Brain Stimulation Treatment Work?

Prior to treatment, a neurostimulator, a battery operated medical device similar to a pacemaker and about the size of a stopwatch, is implanted in your chest that will deliver electrical stimulation to wire electrodes placed in targeted areas of your brain. The targeted areas of the brain receiving the stimulation control movement blocking the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremor.

deep brain stimulation

What to Expect

Patients will have a pre-surgical visit for imaging where doctors use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans to identify exact locations within the brain where electrical nerve signals trigger the symptoms. Once the device is implanted, it will be programmed. The stimulation can be adjusted as a patient’s condition changes over time. The procedure does not destroy brain tissue.

Your Deep Brain Stimulation Team

The deep brain stimulation treatment team at Portsmouth Regional Hospital consists of a neurosurgeon, a neurologist, a physical therapist and an occupational therapist.

“This treatment is a breakthrough – offering patients a return to normal activities without the constant interruptions of tremors and jerky movements. Walking, drinking a glass of water, hugging loved ones, reading a newspaper...we get to give those back.” Gareth Davies, MD, Neurosurgeon

Is DBS Treatment Right For You?

DBS is approved for patients whose symptoms cannot adequately be controlled with medications. Although most patients will still need medication after undergoing DBS, many have experienced a considerable reduction of symptoms and are able to significantly reduce their medications and some of the side effects that accompany the higher doses.

  • When used along with medication, DBS treatment gives patients an average of 5 more hours of symptom-free time every day,1
  • DBS does not contain medicine. In addition, most patients are able to take less medication when they have DBS,1 which may mean fewer drug-induced side effects.
  • DBS is reversible and the device and electrodes can be removed in order to continue medication, try new approaches or therapy.

DBS Treatment is not for everyone. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the risks associated with.

1 Medtronic DBS Therapy for Parkinson's Disease and Essential Tremor Clinical Summary, 2013.