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Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is a neurosurgical procedure that involves the placement of electrodes into the brain. The electrodes are connected to an implanted medical device, sometimes referred to as a brain pacemaker that delivers continuous low-voltage electrical impulses to the targeted area of the brain. These pulses block the abnormal firing of neurons in the targeted area providing therapeutic relief for patients whose symptoms are not adequately controlled by medication.
DBS is used to restore normal function in patients with physiological and movement disorders such as essential tremor and dystonia. Its goals are to reduce muscle tone, improve function, and prevent the progression of movement disorders to other areas of the body.
Imagine putting your arms out and your leg pops up, even though you didn't intend it to. Or trying to make your left leg stay still, but it won't, no matter how much you will it to. Children with dystonia experience all kinds of involuntary movement, and it is often combined with extremely painful muscle contortions, all of which can interfere with with even the simple tasks most of us take for granted such as talking, walking, dressing...even eating. Dystonia and similar movement disorders such as essential tremor can be very, very frustrating for adult patients, and even more so for a child.
DBS surgery can reduce and, in many cases, restore movement, making significant improvements to a patient's quality of life. And Cook Children's offers one of the most recognized pediatric DBS programs available.
Deep brain stimulation surgery involves two parts: implanting electrodes into the brain and a pacemaker inder the skin of the chest. The two devices are connected by the surgeons and electrical impulses are sent from the pacemaker to the brain to correct the abnormal impulses of the movement disorder. At many other hospitals the devices are implanted in two different surgeries and then connected. At Cook Children's the devices are placed at the same time so the child only has to udergo one surgery. Since the first implant in 2007, Cook Children's established itself as one of the elite DBS programs in the nation, with 13 surgical cases over a 10-month period.
From diagnosis through rehab in our Movement Disorder Center, Cook Children's neurosciences team works closely with the patient, the family, and the child's physician to ensure the very best outcome possible.
Our program offers a dedicated team in a unique collaborative setting including:
What do you get when you have a doctor who is committed to improving the life of each and every child with even the most severe dystonia, and a child who is determined to walk, even when the odds are against her? An amazing story? You bet. While DBS is not a cure for dystonia it can restore a level of movement, often dependent upon the severity of the patient's dystonia. In Kiera's case, she and her family were told that because her dystonia was so severe her movement might not be fully restored and that she might not be able to walk. With remarkable resolve, Kiera bet the doctor she would indeed walk and that if she did, he would have to shave his head. Kiera won, but her neurologist by no means lost...well, except his hair. To learn more about Kiera's story and to see how sheer determination paid off for her and her neurologist, click here.
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