Reflections 4 Years After Dad’s Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s
A columnist lets her father explain the changes in his dosage and movements
Several years ago, my dad decided he was ready for deep brain stimulation (DBS), a procedure that would implant electrodes into his brain to target common Parkinson’s symptoms like tremors and dyskinesia (involuntary, erratic, writhing movements).
I’ve written about the massive impact that the procedure has had on him. He went from struggling to drive to regaining almost all of his independence. Before the procedure, he had a hard time keeping weight on his thin frame. But ever since, he’s been looking like himself again.
Most of these benefits still stand resolute against Dad’s version of Parkinson’s disease. He and I recently had a conversation that reflected on the specifics of those changes, and here’s what he told me.
DBS changed his medication dosage
Dad saw immediate changes in the amount of levodopa he needed to help with his symptoms. “Before my DBS, I was taking more levodopa, probably one or two pills per session,” he said. “Two pills lasted about two, three hours. But since DBS, I cut that dosage almost in half. I think that’s fairly common.” What’s more, he said he hasn’t had to increase his levodopa dosage since the procedure.
He explained that the days vary, and sometimes he temporarily adjusts his medication to accommodate changes. For example, he said, “This morning, I came off. I don’t know why. It didn’t last as long as it normally lasts, so I took my second dose earlier than normal. It doesn’t happen very often. And it could have been something I had in my stomach.”
For the most part, however, his dosage has been consistent since DBS, which is amazing because he was steadily increasing it before the procedure.
His right leg became less dyskinetic
Another positive change that Dad experienced after DBS was less overall dyskinesia, and especially in his right leg: “When I used to come off of levodopa, my right leg would shake uncontrollably for 10 to 15 minutes, and that’s gone away,” he said. “DBS totally took dyskinesia out of my right leg.”
Since dyskinesia was one of the main reasons Dad decided to undergo DBS, I was happy to learn that it tackled some of his worst symptoms.
While Dad was initially worried about the potential negative side effects of undergoing DBS, he’s a believer in the procedure now. “I think the DBS works, and it continues,” he said. “It improves a little at a time. It’s been four years, and it still functions quite well.”
As for what I’ve witnessed, I think Dad is experiencing a slower progression than he was before DBS. And for that, I’ll be eternally grateful to his surgeon.
Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.