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Deep brain stimulation changing the outlook for Barrow Parkinson's patients

June 5, 2018

Bill Parta and Dr. Ponce

Bill Barta, who has lived with Parkinson’s disease for the last 15 years, struggled to walk and used a voice recognition device to operate his computer at work due to the effects of the disease.

He worried that he wouldn’t be able to some day walk his daughter down the aisle during her wedding. But an innovative procedure performed by Barrow’s Dr. Francisco Ponce, has dramatically reduced the effects of the disease and given Bill his life back. Bill recently underwent deep brain stimulation, which involves implanting a device in the brain that sends electrical signals to part of the brain to reduce tremors and other movement disorders. Dr. Ponce is the world’s leader in performing the procedure.

Since undergoing surgery, Bill’s results have been life-altering. His walking has dramatically improved and he no longer needs to use the voice recognition technology.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Bill says. “It’s hard for me to put into words how life changing its been. It’s not a cure, but it’s a treatment for the disease that’s life changing.”

Deep brain stimulation, also known as a pacemaker for the brain, has been transformed at Barrow from two procedures to one. Barrow is a forerunner in asleep deep brain stimulation, an effective and more comfortable alternative to traditional awake deep brain stimulation.

“Bill is a great example of someone who is still in his prime and is looking at this like, ‘This isn’t going to keep me from doing what I want to do,’ and now he has this new lease on life in being able to continue what he wants to do longer than he might have otherwise,” says Dr. Ponce.

In the future, Dr. Ponce expects deep brain stimulation to be available for those who suffer from epilepsy and even Alzheimer’s disease.