Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an advanced medical treatment that uses implanted electrical impulses to control debilitating symptoms caused by a variety of movement and other neurologic disorders. We work with the neurologists in the Robert and John M. Bendheim Parkinson and Movement Disorders Center, to provide expert consultation and personalized treatment plans. We have been using this minimally invasive procedure for more than a decade.

To help someone using DBS, we start by using advanced imaging techniques to pinpoint the exact spot in the brain that is causing the problem.  We thread a small wire with an electrode at the end through a small opening in your skull until the tip reaches the target spot. Then we connect the wire and electrode, using a small extension wire, to a small wrist-watch-sized neurostimulator device that we implant just under your skin, near the collarbone.  This enables us to send electrical current when necessary, much as we use pacemakers to ‘shock’ the heart for patients with certain types of heart disease.

“In the same way a heart can have a ‘bad’ rhythm that leads to cardiac disease, Parkinson’s patients have ‘bad’ rhythms of electricity in their brains,” says Brian H. Kopell, MD, Director of the Center for Neuromodulation. “If we insert electrical devices to regulate these electrical activities we can help with their symptoms,” he said.

Once we place the device, we program it to achieve maximum stimulation benefit. We program the length of the electrical pulse, the amplitude or voltage of the pulse, and the frequency (measured in hertz). We design a treatment plan specific to your situation, to optimize functionality and minimize side effects.

Often, DBS enables you to reduce your medication, which decreases the unpleasant side effects. Most patients feel symptom relief soon after the procedure and programming, and the relief is typically long term. If you are interested in DBS, these are the steps:

  • Call our office at 212-241-0050 and let us know that you are interested in DBS.
  • Have the last few notes from your neurologist or primary care physician faxed to our office at 212-410-0603.
  • After we have reviewed your records, we will call to set up an appointment with one of our movement disorder neurologists for further assessment.
  • If our movement disorder neurologist determines that you might be a candidate, we will schedule standardized clinical testing with the neurologist and cognitive testing with one of our neuropsychologists.
  • If we determine that you are, in fact, a good candidate for DBS, we will schedule time for you to see your neurosurgeon and other members of the team to discuss DBS and whether it is right for you.
  • Once you are determined to be a surgical DBS candidate, we will set a date for surgery and pre-surgical follow-up with Dr. Kopell.

If you have more medically or financially related questions, please call our offices at 212-241-3835 or 212-241-0050. We will be happy to direct you in any way possible. We can help you with questions such as:

  • Does my insurance cover DBS surgery?
  • Will my neurologist be involved?
  • What if my device needs to be replaced?