What does the future look like? Will we be gallivanting around in flying automobiles? Perhaps our homes will be keyless and completely automated to the sound of our voice. Maybe we will have robots that are programmed to be our caregivers. Considering how fast technology is growing, these ideas may not be that unlikely. Just look at when you buy a brand new computer and one year later it’s considered old and decrepit.
If you’re going to have Parkinson’s disease, now is a good time to get it. The medical advances in treatment options only are impressive. There is hope in the air. We have things coming down the pipeline that makes me believe we are getting close to having better control of this beast PD. One of these treatment options that has been gaining popularity is Deep Brain Stimulation.
Since the introduction in 1987 of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) to manage Parkinson’s disease symptoms, its evolution has led it to be a popular and acceptable form of treatment. For those who don’t know… DBS is the surgical implantation of an impulse generator, which sends continuous electrical pulses to a targeted part of the brain.
There are approximately 150,000 people worldwide who have been implanted with DBS. But nothing has really changed for last decade except for fine-tuning the placement of the leads and minor changes to the battery (the stimulator). So what’s the future of DBS? Well I have had a glimpse of what lies ahead for Medtronic (who is the oldest and most used manufacturer of Deep Brain Stimulation Technology)… and let’s just say it’s a game changer.
Now before I get into the possibilities that the future might hold, please read my disclaimer in the fine print below…
“The future of DBS” is based on information I have gained from my personal interactions with Medtronic reps and although I am super-stoked about the upcoming advances, it’s important to know that there is no there is no time frame for when these therapies will be available, nor is there any guarantee about the details or changes in their technology. These are just concepts that they are working with the FDA to advance the future of Deep Brain Stimulation. Also, I want to remind you that my blog is strictly for entertainment purposes and is not meant to diagnosis or treat any medical illness. I’m not a doctor, and although I am freakishly smart, you should probably follow-up with someone a little more serious than myself.
The future of Deep Brain Stimulation is looking bright. Here is a list of the upcoming advances in the works:
-Better placement of the leads: With the new technology, your Neurosurgeon will have the ability to visually see the placement of the lead in your brain. This will provide more accurate implantation of the electrodes.
-Visual programming of the device: Your clinician will be able to adjust your stimulators by looking at a tablet, which will provide a picture of what geographical location in the brain they are sending electrical current to. With this visual, they can also see the volume of stimulation, which will improve the efficacy of your device with minimal side effects.
-Increased information about past programming trends: With the new visual programming, clinicians will be able to track your prior settings and look for patterns in symptom relief or side effects of DBS.
-Flexible wires: With new stretchy wires, you will have more range of motion in the neck and decrease the chance of breaking a wire… oh yes, it happens. Just check out when I broke my wire.
-MRI Compatible: Parkies who need MRI’s for diagnostic purposes are unable to do so with DBS, this has caused a lot of frustration. No need to worry about that with MRI conditionally safe stimulators.
-Compatible with already existing implanted leads: If you already have Deep Brain Stimulation, don’t start thinking you will be missing out on the new upgrades. All new technologies will be compatible with your currently placed leads.
-Improved patient programmer: Patients will also get an upgrade. No more garage-door-opener-ish gadget that isn’t very user friendly. The new programmer will be a smart device and easy to operate… yes, even for those who are technologically challenged.
-Sensory technology: Now this is cool… The future technology will focus on DBS being able to sense when you are experiencing increased symptoms and then will adjust your settings to accommodate those fluctuations. Imagine a device sensing when you are having difficulty and then increasing your voltage to give you more control. This is like up there with unicorns and yetis… unbelievable.
-Cranial implants: Ready to have your mind blown? In the future, there will be no more wires tunneling down your neck to your chest. Instead, thumb drive sized stimulators implanted under the scalp, which will be rechargeable, (by wearing a charging hat… which I am sure is not fashionable) and increased battery life up to 15 years… KA-BOOM!