Province announces more access to deep brain stimulation treatment for Parkinson's

The number of DBS brain implant surgeries at UBC hospital will increase to 72 in the 2019/20 fiscal year, double the number performed two years earlier.

Number of DBS brain implant surgeries to increase to 72, double the number performed 2 years earlier

A team of surgeons perform deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery. A new plan to expand the number of patients receiving DBS in B.C. begins April 1. (SickKids)

The province has unveiled a plan to increase the number of people receiving deep brain stimulation (DBS) treatment for Parkinson's disease.

According to a news release from the Ministry of Health, the number of DBS brain implant surgeries at UBC hospital will increase to 72 in the 2019/20 fiscal year, double the number performed two years earlier.

"With these expanded services, more people with Parkinson's disease will benefit from this life-changing surgery," said Dr. Gary Redekop, head of neurosurgery with Vancouver Coastal Health.

The program begins April 1 and will target Parkinson's sufferers whose symptoms can no longer be controlled through medication.

In DBS, electrical impulses are sent to a brain implant, altering brain activity in a way that reduces symptoms of Parkinson's such as tremors and stiff muscles.

As of last month, 70 British Columbians were on a wait list for DBS.

"In addition to increased operating-room time, the program is also recruiting an additional qualified neurosurgeon with sufficient experience in primary insertions, while using a team of other neurosurgeons to support less specialized battery replacements for DBS as part of realizing new surgical targets," said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Parkinson's is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms include tremors, stiff muscles, slow movement and problems with balance or walking.

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