Movement Disorders FAQs

No. DBS is a treatment for PD: it does not cure PD nor does it stop the progression of PD. The same is true for ET, it reduces tremor but the disease can progress.

DBS therapy is considered a safe and effective treatment for PD and ET and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States. IT is covered by Medicare and all major insurance carriers.

DBS can help improve the motor symptoms of PD including: shaking (tremor), muscle stiffness (rigidity), slowed movement (bradykinesia), “on/off” fluctuations and dyskinesia (a side effect of PD medication). DBS increases patients “on” time by five and a half hours per day on average. Eighty-five percent of Essential Tremor patients receive dramatic benefit.

When you are first diagnosed with PD, your neurologist or movement disorders specialist will use medications to help reduce the symptoms of PD. Your condition may be well controlled with medication alone and DBS may not be necessary or may be delayed for several years. A movement disorders specialist is the best resource to confirm your diagnoses of PD and help determine if DBS would be a good choice for you. The same is true for ET, your movement disorders neurologist will evaluate you and recommend DBS as needed.The best candidates for DBS therapy meet most of the following criteria: You have had PD symptoms for at least five years. You have “on/off” fluctuations, with or without dyskinesia. You continue to have a good response to PD medications, especially carbidopa/levodopa, although the duration of response may be insufficient. You have tried different combination of carbidopa/levodopa and dopamine agonists under the supervision of a movement disorders neurologist. You have tried other PD medications, such as entacapone, tolcapone, selegiline, or amantadine without beneficial results. You have PD symptoms that interfere with daily activities. For ET, if your tremor is affecting activities of daily living. DBS is NOT as effective to relieve some symptoms, such as: difficulty with balance or walking, freezing episodes or speech problems. DBS would not be advised if you have severe confusion, depression, anxiety or another psychiatric illness that is not improved with medication or counseling. If you are not certain about your PD diagnoses, or you have another serious health condition, you may need further evaluation by a movement disorders specialist and/or your primary physician.