Deep Brain Stimulation

Deep brain stimulation is an effective treatment for patients suffering from movement disorders (such as essential tremor, Parkinson's disease and dystonia, and more recently, obsessive-compulsive disorder), and is reserved for patients who are unable to treat their condition with medicine.

The deep brain stimulation procedure involves the implantation of electrodes into certain areas of the brain. These electrodes produce electrical pulses that help to regulate abnormal impulses. It can also affect certain cells and chemicals in the brain. The amount of electrical pulses in deep brain stimulation is controlled by a device placed under the skin in the upper chest. A wire is placed under the skin that connects this device to the electrodes in the brain. After the surgery, the device will be switched on and the process of finding the best settings for each patient begins. Some settings may cause side effects, but it will improve with further adjustments of the device.

Side effects associated with deep brain stimulation may include:

  • Seizure
  • Infection
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Stroke
  • Hardware complications, such as an eroded lead wire
  • Temporary pain and swelling at the implantation site

Deep brain stimulation can treat a number of neurological conditions, including:

  • Essential tremor
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Dystonia
  • Epilepsy
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder

It is also being used as an experimental treatment for major depression, stroke recovery, addiction and dementia.

Dr Richardson works in conjunction with a specialist neurosurgeon for assessment for DBS for movement disorders and tourettes syndrome.