HomeNews Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group neuroscience physicians improving the lives of Parkinson’s disease

Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group neuroscience physicians improving the lives of Parkinson’s disease patients using deep brain stimulation

May 11, 2017

Erwin Mangubat, M.DDeep brain stimulation can almost immediately help improve the lives of patients. Pictured: Erwin Mangubat, M.D.

Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group neuroscience physicians want to make sure the community is aware that the lives of people suffering from symptoms related to Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions can be improved with a procedure known as deep brain stimulation, a treatment for movement disorders. According to a recent survey, only 10 percent of the up to 15 percent of patients with advanced Parkinson's disease eligible for deep brain stimulation are referred to specialized centers. Many patients are not being treated by neurologists or may have never heard of the procedure.

“The impact is almost immediate,” said Erwin Mangubat, M.D., neurosurgeon, Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group Neurosurgery. “Patients see a decrease in tremors and rigidity. They are able to perform activities a little bit easier, including writing and eating, showering and brushing their own teeth.”

The surgery is a treatment for Parkinson’s, but is not a cure. As the disease progresses, doctors regulate, without further surgery, the rate of electrical impulses to the target areas of the brain, which block the impulses that cause tremors.

The surgery also helps patients and families with non-motor symptoms too. The National Parkinson’s Foundation also is raising awareness on the other components of Parkinson’s with their campaign, #MoreThanMotor. The campaign focuses on the non-motor symptoms like mood disorders, cognitive changes and hallucinations, which also are common with the disease.

“It’s not a cure but it can help improve quality of life for people,” Mangubat said. “People feel a little more part of the community. They don’t feel as embarrassed or restricted.”

Parkinson’s, a central nervous system disorder, keeps an individual from totally controlling body movements. It affects about 1 million people in the United States and four to six million people worldwide. The symptoms occur for most people after age 50.

For more information about treatment for Parkinson’s disease at Palmetto Health-USC Neurosurgery, visit PalmettoHealth.org/Neurosurgery.