Parkinson’s disease is a condition that continues to challenge thousands of Australians every year.
Many have spoken of the challenging consequences of the tremors they experience, desperate for relief.
While a cure for Parkinson’s is still being researched, an exciting new development has started to be rolled out at Royal Melbourne Hospital.
A newly improved surgical technique is having wondrous results for many who have craved reprieve for years.
Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a neurological therapy and surgery operated on the brain.
While the technique is not new, having been used for the last two decades, recent times have seen vast improvements in how it can be performed.
Electrodes are implanted in the part of the brain that controls movement.
Girish Nair, a neurosurgeon at Royal Melbourne Hospital describes the therapy as “pacemaker for the brain”.
The electrodes are linked to a device under the skin enabling the triggering of electrical impulses to reduce the shakes.
While the surgery was able to achieve significant stability for patients, the demands of the surgery were deeply off-putting and unsuitable for many.
Up until recently, patients needed to be secured to the operating table via a large and bulky head frame for over five hours.
The daunting frame prevented them from moving during the long process of scans and skull incisions.
A particular concern for many was that they were to be awake during the five hour long surgery, connected to the cumbersome head frame.
Understandably patients spoke of their concern regarding being awake as a surgeon drilled into their skull, many deciding not to proceed with the surgery.
Girish Nair is leading a team starting to pioneer the new and improved way of performing DBS.
One of the most powerful new factors brought on by the new technique of conducting DBS is that patients are now able to be fully sedated.
This development is sure to give many the hope and opportunity opt in for this fantastically life improving surgery, .
Gone is the bulky head frame that prevented patients from moving, replaced now with a petite 3D printed piece of equipment.
Improving precision, timing and efficiency of the surgery process, the new 3D printed equipment is custom fitted to perfectly match the patient’s head.
The progress in technique and equipment has allowed for significant all-round advancements in how DBS is conducted.
Patients can be moved, scanning can be done faster and surgical precision has become even more minute, down to sub-millimeter precision.
Mr. Nair describes the new process, “The patient comes to theatre, the custom-made implant is attached to the skull, and we are off and racing.”
For the countless people in Australia and around the world challenged by Parkinson’s, the new techniques and reality of completing DBS means life-altering change.
While DBS is not a cure for Parkinson’s, the positive physical effects are projected to last at least a decade for those that undergo it.
The new technique of DBS means hope and stability for those that acutely deserve it.
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