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Journey of DBS
1. Explore your options
The first step of your journey is understanding if you are an eligible candidate. Speak to your nearest Neuro-centre to see if DBS is a solution for you or request a referral from your General Practitioner to speak to a movement disorder Neurologist.
Once you are an eligible candidate your DBS journey begins. Unlike many procedures, DBS occurs in different phases so the whole journey can take some time from start to finish. You will have support throughout and after your DBS journey from your specialist team.
2. Have a DBS surgery evaluation
In this stage, you’ll go through a thorough series of screenings to ensure that you’re a good candidate for DBS. These may include a neurological consultant, ON/OFF testing, a neuropsychological evaluation, a general health screening, brain imaging, and routine lab work.
3. Lead implementation surgery
The first step in the surgical process is to place the leads in the brain. During the surgery, your specialist may perform tests to ensure that the leads are positioned correctly by asking you to move your arms and legs or make other simple movements. Other surgeons perform the test whilst you are asleep. The surgery can range from 4-8hrs in length. Afterwards, expect to stay in the hospital at least overnight for monitoring.
4. Stimulator implantation
This is a surgical procedure that, may happen at the time the leads are implanted or several weeks after. When the stimulator is implanted, you’ll be under general anaesthesia, and the stimulator will be connected to your leads via the extension.
5. Programming and optimization
Following surgery and recovery, your DBS system will be turned on and the stimulation settings will be customised for you. In the months after your device is implanted, you’ll work closely with your specialist team to make adjustments to your stimulation settings and your medicine to help best control your symptoms.
As with all types of surgery, there is always a degree of risk of complications, it is important to remember this may not be a solution for everyone. Your specialist team will work with you to understand the best treatment and your personal goals from DBS surgery. It is important to keep in mind that despite all the efforts of your specialist team to select the best treatment adapted to you, patients do not all experience the same outcome. DBS is not a cure but can help you to achieve a better quality of life.
Keep in mind the following:
- DBS Goals: Before embarking on the DBS journey, it is important to set DBS goals that are realistic and achievable. You will work closely with your specialist team to identify these goals. It may take some time to achieve the best therapy for you.
- Goal Setting for Parents & Carers : Parents and Carers will be involved in the goal setting.
- Approved for DBS : Once you are accepted for DBS surgery, your specialist team will discuss with you the risks and benefits of DBS surgery
- DBS will not be able to correct your speech, balance or cognitive function
- DBS will be able to help with motor symptoms but not non-motor symptoms
- After DBS surgery you will most likely have medicine alongside your treatment. Although, this will slowly be reduced as your stimulation in the device increases. For most patients, there is an expected decrease of medication of at least 30%.