Great Advances in the Treatment of Parkinson's Disease - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/22/02

Great Advances in the Treatment of Parkinson's Disease

One of the greatest advances in the treatment of Parkinson's Disease has been simply out of reach to most patients because of the expense. Until now. "Having the FDA approval has opened the door now for people that are medicare age to get this procedure done," said Dr. Michael Resak.

Paul Ewell was trying to touch his thumb to his other fingers last year, at that time he couldn't even use a fork or a spoon. Today Paul is doing the same finger exercise. For the most part, his tremors, the rigid facial expression and the other symptoms of his Parkinson's Disease are gone.

Hundreds have already benefited from this new advance. Two thin probes called Deep Brain Stimulators are placed in the subthalmus, which is where the symptoms of Parkinson's originate. Wires run under the skin to a pacemaker size devices implanted in the upper chest. Then doctors program tiny currents of electricity to block out the symptoms. It's been done experimentally for several years, here in Lubbock, too.

But now that it's received government approval and the okay to be provided by Medicare, it is sure to help thousands more who suffer from Parkinson's Disease. People like Paul Ewell, who says now after having the procedure that he doesn't just feel better, he thinks he looks better too. "When you don't have the facial expression, you don't have the emotions. To be able to laugh with joy. That was not happening for about six years, I realized," said Paul Ewell.

The surgical procedure is called Deep Brain Stimulator and again it is available here in Lubbock.

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