APDA American Parkinson Disease Association
Information & Referral Center

Surgical Therapies

Patients who suffer from Parkinson's Disease may be candidates for deep brain stimulation (DBS), a therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997. With DBS, a surgically implanted medical device delivers controlled electrical stimulation to targeted areas of the brain, similar to a cardiac pacemaker. The goal is to reorganize the abnormal brain signals that cause disabling motor symptoms.

DBS is a very effective treatment for some -- but not all -- with PD. Discuss whether you are a good candidate for DBS with the movement disorder specialist on your care team.

Finding A Movement Disorder Specialist in Northern California

If you live in Northern California, contact the APDA Information & Referral Center at Stanford for a referral to a movement disorder specialist near you. A movement disorder specialist is a neurologist with special training in Parkinson's Disease and other movement disorders.

Read Others' Experiences

To help decide if DBS is right for you, read about others' DBS experiences on the DBS Stories page.

Relevant Publications - Downloadable

“Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease: Essential Facts for Patients”
Published by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), 2016
This 1-page fact sheet summarizes the motor symptoms of advanced PD, how deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help, who should consider DBS and how patients are chosen for the procedure.  It talks briefly about the procedure and its risks, what happens after the procedure and the short, medium and long-term results.


“Parkinson’s Disease: Guide to Deep Brain Stimulation,” by Michael S. Okun, and Pamela R. Zeilman
Published by the National Parkinson’s Foundation, January 4, 2017
This 56-page guide addresses who is a good candidate for surgery, testing and acceptance for surgery, the technical aspects of surgery, the relative risks and benefits of DBS, the importance of programming, and possible changes in symptoms and medications after surgery. Available in PDF or in paper form via mail.


Relevant Online Information

“About Deep Brain Stimulation, a 24-Hour Therapy that Fits Your Lifestyle”
Published by Medtronic
This is Medtronic’s main page for information about DBS therapy for Parkinson’s disease.  It uses both text and video, professional and personal testimony, to provide general information about DBS and important safety information.  Links direct you to further webpages with text and videos on “How DBS May Help,” “Advantages of DBS Therapy,” "The Right Time to Start," "Getting DBS: What to Expect," and resources to speak with people who already have DBS and/or a nurse who specializes in it.

“Deep Brain Stimulation”

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation
This short webpage explains that DBS delivers electrical pulses to brain cells to decrease symptoms and has largely replaced older surgeries involving targeted destruction of brain cells contributing to symptoms.  It discusses the benefits of DBS, evaluation prior to DBS surgery, the procedure and device programming, how DBS works, and research on DBS and Parkinson’s.

“Deep Brain Stimulation”

Published by the Parkinson's Foundation
This webpage provides a brief overview of DBS, what symptoms it improves, the components of the system, brain targets, prognosis and a quick checklist to see if you are a good candidate for DBS.


“Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease”

Published by WebMD
This extensive series of webpages answers questions about deep brain stimulation (DBS) from the basics -- how does DBS work, what are the advantages and risks -- to the more obscure -- such as use of electrical devices after surgery.


Relevant Online Lectures and Webinars

“A Dancer’s Perspective on Movement & Parkinson’s"
By Stanford University School of Medicine, Continuing Studies, July 15, 2010
This 2-hour lecture by Stanford movement disorder specialist, Helen Bronte-Stewart, MD, provides an overview of the neuro-motor functioning of the human body and how Parkinson’s disease develops. The speaker explains the evaluation for deep brain stimulation, the surgical process, expectations during post surgery/recovery, and device programming.

“Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease: Past, Present and Future”
By the Stanford Hospital Health Library,
March 10, 2016

In this 57-minute lecture, movement disorder specialists Melanie Lising, MD, and Laurice Yang, MD, discuss the development of deep brain stimulation surgery and the value of the surgery in improving many troubling symptoms of PD once Parkinson’s medications lose their effectiveness.

“The Role of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) in PD”

By UCSF Parkinson’s Disease Clinic and Research Center, November 15, 2014
In this 33-minute video lecture, movement disorder specialist Jill Ostrem, MD, explains what symptoms DBS improves, how it works, who’s a good candidate, the candidate evaluation process, the surgical procedure, recovery and programming, complications, long-term efficacy and safety, and the future of DBS for Parkinson’s disease.


“Spotlight on Parkinson's Disease: The ABC'S of DBS”
By the American Parkinson Disease Association,June 26, 2018
In this 49-minute audio lecture with slides, neurologist, Dr. Jill Ostrem specifically addresses what is DBS, who is a candidate, what symptoms does DBS improve and not improve, current DBS systems and future uses of DBS. There is a good question and answer period at the end.


“Treating the Brain: New Approaches to Deep Brain Stimulation and Beyond” 

By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, March 19, 2015
In this 1-hour webinar, neurosurgeons Jaimie Henderson, MD and Neal Kassell, MD,, discuss current DBS practices as well as other surgical interventions coming in the near future, including focused ultrasound. To view the webinar recording, you must register.


Expert-Level Resources

“Predictive Factors for Long-term Outcome of Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease,” by C. Fukaya, et. al.
Neurologia medico-chirurgica, January 2017. 
This study was to determine predictive factors for the long-term outcome of STN-DBS.  Results showed the PD onset age, age at surgery, preoperative high-level ADL (activities of daily living), cognitive function, and axial symptoms are important predictive factors for the long-term outcome of STN-DBS. Pre-registration required with PubMed to view full article.

“Proceedings of the Third Annual Deep Brain Stimulation Think Tank: A Review of Emerging Issues and Technologies,”
 by P. Justin Rossi, et. al.
Frontiers in Neuroscience, April 6, 2016
These proceedings summarize the most contemporary clinical, electrophysiological, imaging, and computational work on DBS for the treatment of neurological and neuropsychiatric disease. Significant innovations of the past year are emphasized.

This list compiled by Steven Russell for Stanford's Parkinson's Community Outreach Program, February 2017.

Design support by Kevin T. Boyd

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