Most of us take for granted a steady hand. For 63 year-old David Donahoe, it's a blessing thanks to new high tech medicine just approved by the FDA.
David has Parkinson's, a degenerative nervous system disorder that causes debilitating tremors, robbing him of much of his independence. But at clinical trials at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, David was among a group to try a new type of stimulation device implanted in his brain.
"We now have the ability in the U.S. to use a device that uses just one stimulator to stimulate both sides of the brain," says Dr. William Marks, Jr., neurologist.
It's called the Kinetra Neuro-Stimulator. For patients, the new advance by Medtronic means less surgery time and fewer incisions. It works like similar implants stimulating the part of the brain that influences motor control, blocking brain signals that cause the characteristic stiffness and shaking of Parkinson's. In Donahoe, the difference was amazing.
"I can now drive more effectively and easily. Just overall, life's conditions are a lot more pleasant," says David Donahoe, Parkinson's patient.
Patients can also now use a remote control to adjust the brain stimulation so that the patient has more control over his own treatment. He still takes medication but the surgery has enabled him to cut down on that, too.
The surgery to install the implant is risky, so this option is only available to patients who are not responding well to medication and do not suffer from dementia.