How DBS therapy helps people with Parkinson’s reclaim their quality of life

Apr 8, 2022

The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease are debilitating and vastly reduce the quality of life for those who have to endure them, impacting not only physical health, but mental health as well. In progressive diseases the journey to diagnosis and optimal treatment can be long and arduous. People living with Parkinson’s often suffer unnecessarily as they see multiple doctors and specialists over the years to find the best treatment for them.

But there is something special about these individuals – a spark, a hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. They know there’s a better life out there for them, and they’re relentless in pursuing it.

“I am in awe of the determination and spirit of people living with Parkinson’s every day who continually inspire us to deliver the most meaningful innovations with our DBS technologies,” said Rafael Carbunaru, vice president of Research and Development, Neuromodulation, Boston Scientific. “This is why we are so focused on exploring new avenues, advancing science and technologies – so people living with this condition around the world can not only find symptom relief, but ultimately live their best lives.”

Erica: from walking to running

Take Erica, for example. Diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s disease at age 39, she breaks every stereotype you could have about people with the condition. She didn’t have the traditional tremors that most people associate with Parkinson’s disease, but rather the lesser-known symptoms, which left her unable to walk, brush her teeth or feed herself.

Initially, Erica responded well to medications. Unfortunately, it didn’t last, and she was back in her doctor’s office every two or three months in search of relief.

Her life revolved around her pills. Twelve pills a day with no guarantee if they would work or what side effects would pop up. Social gatherings were frustrating. Driving was terrifying. Simple tasks were near impossible.

That’s when she started asking about deep brain stimulation (DBS). She got a referral to a neurosurgeon, who agreed she was a candidate after seeing her symptoms in action.

Despite knowing the Boston Scientific DBS solution was the right path for her, Erica was initially uneasy at the idea of a brain procedure. When the day came, she was calm. She knew she wanted a different way of life, and she was ready.

Her procedure went flawlessly, and she described the entire experience as “a piece of cake.” She entered her post-op appointment in a wheelchair, and she walked out on her own. Since surgery, Erica’s quality of life has improved immensely. She’s running more and qualified for the 2022 Boston Marathon. Her sleep improved dramatically, and her emotional health rebounded. She’s back to being her old self.

Samran: symptom relief at last

Samran is another great example of a DBS success story. Living in Thailand, Samran found himself unable to drive to pick up his daughter or even do simple housework or hold a broom. He would sometimes have to hire people to help with his daily tasks.

He did not respond well to medication, and resorted to herbal medicines, massages and other remedies at great cost, but to no avail.

When his doctor recommended DBS, he was skeptical. But after his daughter, who had undergone scoliosis surgery, told him that if she could do it so could he, he agreed. She supported him throughout the process, and it turns out it wasn’t as scary as he thought. After the stimulation was turned on and adjusted, he finally felt relief from his disease.

“We learn about stories like this every day – people who would not take no for an answer and finally found relief through DBS,” Carbunaru continued. “While everyone’s story and experience is unique, I am fulfilled in knowing that we’re helping so many people around the world return to a higher quality of life.”


Watch Samran's story about his DBS treatment for Parkinson's:

Learn more about Parkinson’s disease and deep brain stimulation (DBS).