Continued from previous pa​ge.

A pacemaker​ for the brain

In cases of Parkinson's disease and movement disorders, a lack of dopamine, which is a crucial neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) for the proper transmission of nerve-cell signals, as well as other neurotransmitters, cause the transmission of nerve signals to go haywire.

​Associate Professor Prakash Kumar​, Senior Consultant Ne​urologist at the Department of Neurology​, National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) (Singapore General Hospital​ campus), a member of the SingHealth​ group says, “When the Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) electrodes are switched on, they pump steady pulses of electricity to the brain, thereby changing the abnormal firing of neurons.”

While DBS may not fully cure Park​inson disease, it can successfully decrease the severity of its symptoms like tremors, stiffness, slowness and involuntary movements (known as dyskinesia).

“This means Parkinson patients regain control of their movements, although balance problems and non-motor symptoms like depression may still persist,” says Dr Kumar. “And as it is a chronic neurological disease, there will still be a need for patients to manage the condition long-term.”

DBS for other medical conditions

When it comes to treating movement disorders, DBS is actually not an experimental procedure.

Since 1997, DBS has helped improve symptoms in more than 150,000 patients with Parkinson and other movement disorders worldwide, including Singapore.

Below are other medical conditions where DBS has been utilised:​

  1. Obsessive compulsive disorder

  2. Treatment-resistant depression

  3. Post-traumatic stress disorder

  4. Treatment-resistant epilepsy

  5. Dementia

  6. Tourette syndrome

  7. Traumatic brain injury

  8. Chronic pain

  9. Multiple sclerosis

Dr Kumar observes, “DBS is definitely a potential treatment option for many conditions where brain region​s are not functioning properly. But clinical trials are still ongoing – it may be years before DBS can be employed in these medical conditions.”

See previous page for to learn how deep brain stimulation (DBS) is performed​.​

Ref: J22

Check out other articles on parkinson's disease:

How You Sleep May Determine If You are at Risk of Parkinson's

Parkinson's Disease: 5 Common Misconceptions

How to Manage 'On' and 'Off' States in Parkinson's

Videos: Exercises for Parkinson Patients

Staying Active with Parkinson's