How effective is deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease?

Deep brain stimulation provides excellent relief for most patients’ symptoms including tremor, stiffness (rigidity), slowed movement (bradykinesia), freezing of gait (feet seem to stick to the floor) and dyskinesias. Long-term studies have shown continued improvement in tremor, bradykinesia, and dyskinesia. Many patients are able to reduce their medications and maintain their level of function including independent participation in activities of daily living required to care for oneself. One of the distinct advantages, is that after DBS, patients on average improve their daily ‘on time’—when they are at their best, without troublesome dyskinesia—by half a day.

Does deep brain stimulation cure Parkinson’s disease?

Deep brain stimulation does not cure Parkinson’s disease and its tremor. However, it may significantly improve motor symptoms, which improves a patient’s function and quality of life.

Will I still need to take medications after deep brain stimulation?

Yes. However, your dosage may be greatly reduced over time.

When will I be able to go home after the deep brain stimulation procedure?

The average hospital stay following implantation of the DBS leads is 1 to 2 days. Most patients are able to return home on the same day that their battery is placed.

How should I care for the surgical area once I am home?

  • Your stitches or staples will be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.
  • Each of the four pin sites should be kept covered with band aids until they are dry. You will be able to wash your head with a damp cloth, avoiding the surgical area.
  • You may only shampoo your hair the day after your stitches or staples are removed, but only very gently.
  • You should not scratch or irritate the wound areas.

Will I have to limit my activity following deep brain stimulation surgery?

  • You should not engage in light activities for 2 weeks after surgery. This includes housework and sexual activity.
  • You should not engage in heavy activities for 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. This includes jogging, swimming, or any physical education classes. Anything strenuous should be avoided to allow your surgical wound to heal properly. If you have any questions about activities, call your doctor before performing them.
  • You should not lift more than 5 lbs. for at least 2 weeks.
  • You should not raise your arms above your shoulders or over bend or stretch your neck.
  • Depending on the type of work you do, you may return to work within 4 to 6 weeks.

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