Answering your questions about deep brain stimulation

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sponsored by Medtronic

Author: Sophie ParrottPublished: 23 March 2023

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Dr Alan Whone.

Early next month, medical tech company Medtronic will host a virtual webinar to discuss deep brain stimulation (DBS). Join consultant neurologist Dr Alan Whone (pictured above) and DBS nurse Russell Mills to learn more about how the technology works – and how it can support people with Parkinson’s

What is deep brain stimulation? How can it benefit certain people with Parkinson’s? When it comes to exploring DBS as a potential treatment option, these are some of the key questions that the community wants answered.

DBS therapy can be a viable choice for people whose motor symptoms no longer respond well to medication. The procedure involves inserting a device under the skin and connecting it with fine wires (leads) to specific areas of the brain. Electric stimulations delivered to these targeted areas then change some of the signals linked to Parkinson’s symptoms.

But how can this treatment help the right candidates gain greater control over their symptoms in daily life? To answer some of the common questions around DBS, medical technology company Medtronic is hosting a virtual webinar designed to serve as an informational resource for the Parkinson’s community.

Demystifying developments in DBS

Titled ‘Discover DBS and access the newest BrainSense™ technology’, the webinar will take place on 4 April at 18:00 BST (19:00 CEST or 20:00 EEST). It is open to anyone interested in learning more about the treatment.

“One of the things for people with Parkinson’s to understand is that DBS technology advances all the time,” commented Dr Alan Whone, consultant neurologist at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, UK, who will be co-chairing the session to shed light on the treatment.

In addition to sharing insights about deep brain stimulation and its potential benefits for people with Parkinson’s, the webinar will highlight information about Medtronic’s latest BrainSense™ technology. Launched in 2020, this technology – embedded in the Percept™ PC neurostimulator device – is able to capture brain signals while simultaneously delivering therapeutic stimulation at any given time.

The Percept™ PC neurostimulator device.

BrainSense™ technology is embedded in the Percept™ PC neurostimulator device.

“BrainSense™ technology allows the recording of electrical impulses out from the brain,” explained Dr Whone. “So, you’re not just able to apply electrical impulses into the brain – you can actually record its own electrical impulses coming back.”

A significant feature of this technology is that these signals can be recorded both inside and outside of clinical settings. This comprehensive data can be considered against factors such as symptoms, medications and side effects, as well as the device’s simulation settings. Medical professionals can access this data in real time and adapt care according to individual needs, which may evolve over time.

The ‘patient programmer’ also offers people with Parkinson’s the opportunity to manage their own therapy, allowing them to tailor the device’s stimulation throughout the day with options that have been pre-programmed by their doctor.

The webinar will explore the various features of this technology in more detail and discuss how it might be useful to those with the condition, in a clinical environment and beyond.

Highlighting the experiences of people with Parkinson’s

Russell Mills.

Join DBS nurse Russell Mills at Medtronic’s upcoming webinar.

Dr Whone will be joined by Russell Mills, a DBS nurse based in Newcastle, UK, who will be able to share insights on how people in the Parkinson’s community have responded to this technology.

Among these is clinical research nurse and tree surgeon Nick Vallotton, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 38. He previously talked about living with the condition and starting his DBS journey in 2021.

“I kind of just cruised along on medication, and it was chopped and changed according to how I felt at the time,” he recalled. “But then, a couple of years ago, I was getting really bad – my walking was deteriorating and I was stumbling around and falling a lot.”

He explained that he also had problems with dystonia (a range of movement disorders that cause muscle spasms and contractions). These symptoms reportedly became easier to manage after he began DBS treatment: “A real, immediate benefit was the fact that these muscle cramps had gone,” he said.

Nick also highlighted how the device has helped him in communicating with medical professionals. “When I go to the clinic to see the nurse, she connects to my device via Bluetooth,” he said. “She can adjust the neurostimulator and the direction of the leads and the frequency of the stimulation, to try and alleviate my symptoms.”

Learn more in a webinar setting

Medtronic’s upcoming webinar will serve as an educational resource, to inform those who are interested in learning more about DBS and BrainSense™ technology.

Attendees will have the opportunity to put forward questions, to ensure that the session and its content are as useful as possible.

In the lead-up to the webinar, Dr Whone said: “One of the reasons I think that movement disorders neurology is such a great branch to be in, is because we really can have an impact – particularly on [people] with Parkinson’s where we have a large armoury of therapies that we can apply.

“Certainly one of the most exciting therapies to apply is DBS, because it has such a large effect size.”

This article is sponsored by Medtronic. The information in this article is given for information purposes only and does not represent an endorsement by Parkinson’s Europe of any particular treatments, products or companies. This is not a substitute for advice from your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. Parkinson’s Life makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness or accuracy of information provided.

Information contained herein is not medical advice and should not be used as an alternative to speaking with your doctor. Discuss indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, adverse events and any further information with your health care professional.

Read more:

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