Shreveport, La. – There is a ground-breaking procedure that’s changing the lives of Parkinson’s patients and people who suffer with movement diseases. These efforts are underway in Shreveport at Tri-State Neurosurgery.
Patients who got this surgery said it essentially gave them their lives back because what it does is stop the constant shaking and tremors they suffer with and returns them to a much better quality of life.
Inside Willis-Knighton, people are finding a second chance at life at Tri-State Neurosurgery. It’s where a newer kind of procedure is offered called Deep Brain Stimulation or DBS. It’s like a heart pace-maker, but used for the brain.
“So similar to the heart having atrial fibrillation or having some kind of rhythm that is making people sick a lot of people don’t realize that the brain too can have an abnormal rhythm that is making them sick. This is the source of Parkinson’s disease, tremors and abnormal muscle contractions called Dystonia,” said Dr. Jessica Wilden, neurosurgeon Tri-State NeuroSurgery.
Dr. Wilden is helping pioneer a new future for patients with these diseases. She surgically implants a wire into the brain that connects to a battery underneath the skin. The battery sends electronic signals to the brain. When it’s turned off-and-on, the effects are dramatic.
“Oh it’s immediate it’s on soon as you turn it off,” said Lloyd Langston, who received DBS surgery.
Using a hand-held programmer that connects to the DBS battery, Dr. Wilden can control Langston’s tremors. They demonstrate using a paper cup to show the before-and-after effects.
“Bring it like you’re drinking and set it down, bring it up and set it down. So you can see when we turn the battery off the tremor comes back very quickly,” Dr. Wilden said.
Langston has essential tremors. He started to notice it a few years ago while he was working in construction.
“I couldn’t hold a hammer or screwdriver or anything. I couldn’t do any work, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink, I had to eat with a spoon,” Langston said.
He and his wife Betty traveled from Alexandria to get the DBS surgery about two years ago.
“It was wonderful. He got to where he was spilling coffee and spilling his food,” Betty Langston said.
With the battery turned back on, you can see how it stops his tremors. They demonstrated the effects again showing how fast it works.
“Do it again, set it down, and pick it up and do it again. See it’s pretty amazing,” Dr. Wilden said.
Patients can control the battery themselves at home.
Another patient actually uses a wireless I-pod Touch.
“I can deal with life now. Before, it was to the point where it wasn’t worth living,” James Roach said.
Roach suffers with Parkinson’s Disease and said medications were not working. He’s the owner of Roach Plumbing in Shreveport and said it started to impact everything in his life.
“I figured what’s the best part of life? What do you want out of life? You want mobility or you want to be shaking all your life. You can’t sleep, you shake all night, you shake all day. People stare at you. People don’t understand it effects the way you feel,” Roach said.
After DBS, he and his wife Cara said it’s like night and day.
“Totally different. I felt really bad for him with his tremors and drooling. He’s almost back one-hundred percent,” said Cara Lee, James’ wife.
Just with a simple tap on his I-Pod, you can see the drastic effects.
“You can see, the tremor is starting to dim down. Open and close you hand, tap your foot.. You can see he has movement back in his arm and in his face,” Dr. Wilden said.
Roach said he was scared at first to get brain surgery and it’s not a cure. But the recovery was not difficult and he would do it again in a heart-beat.
“Quality of life means everything. If you can get some decent quality out of your life, from what you got left. I’m 63 and it’s unbelievable what this surgery did for me,” Roach said.
Dr. Wilden said becoming a DBS surgeon was kind of like fate for her because the first surgery she ever saw was a brain pacemaker when she was still in medical school. She said after she heard the brain signals become more normal with the pacemaker and saw the patient’s tremors stop, she knew this would become her life-goal.
There’s a lot more information about Deep Brain Stimulation and the kinds of procedures Tri-State Neurosurgery offers. You can call their office at (318) 212-8176. It’s very unique for the region and patients travel from all across it to receive this revolutionary surgery.