Parkinson Patient Gets His Life Back

Richard has had Parkinson's disease for 15 years. Despite taking three medications, his tremors were so strong that he was unable to feed himself or write his name.  It was truly disabling.

Then Richard had deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery at Allegheny General Hospital. By implanting electrodes into his brain, doctors were able to stop his abnormal nerve impulses. Free of medications, he can control his movement normally and do the activities he enjoys.  

Richard is living proof that Allegheny Health Network (AHN) uses ground-breaking scientific technology to help patients return to a higher quality of life.

How does deep brain stimulation help patients?

Surgeon Donald Whiting, MD, Chair of AHN’s Neuroscience Institute, implants slender leads tipped with electrical contacts into the brain to deliver mild electrical pulses to the brain, rebalancing neural circuits and influencing nerve activity. The leads are connected to a compact, battery-operated generator, which is implanted near the collar bone in a fashion similar to a heart pacemaker. When the nerves are regulated, the patients are able to move smoothly. They may regain the ability to control a spoon, a computer mouse, and live more independently.

Medical experts explain

The surgical team at Allegheny General is among one of the most experienced in the nation with DBS surgery. Dr. Donald Whiting is the only surgeon in western Pennsylvania to have completed 500 cases.

“It’s gratifying to reach the landmark of 500 surgeries and realize that we’ve been able to help so many people achieve better symptom management, mobility and quality of life,” Dr. Whiting said.

Helping Parkinson’s disease patients

At AHN’s Cahouet Center for Comprehensive Parkinson’s Care, patients can access:

  • Consultations with AHN’s neurologists, neurosurgeons, and movement disorders specialists  
  • Clinical research trials of new therapies
  • Access to speech, occupational and physical therapists, psychologist, social worker, nutritional, and exercise specialists – all in one setting.
  • Support groups, exercise classes and educational programs
  • Personalized follow-up care coordinated by the Parkinson Foundation Western Pennsylvania

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