Deep brain stimulation (DBS) by the numbers, 30 years in

Posted 5 months ago by

Now that deep-brain stimulation (DBS) — a groundbreaking treatment for Parkinson’s disease — has been around for just over 30 years in the U.S., check out some stats and data about it. Plus, see how many members of the PatientsLikeMe community have had DBS and what they’ve said about it.

What is DBS and how does it work?

DBS is a procedure that uses a surgically implanted, battery-operated device called an implantable pulse generator (IPG) — similar to a heart pacemaker and about the size of a stopwatch. The IPG delivers electrical stimulation to specific areas in the brain that control movement, blocking the abnormal nerve signals that cause Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms.

Take a look at some key dates, stats and facts related to DBS:

  • 1987 – the year that French neurosurgeon Dr. Alim-Louis Benabid developed modern DBS
  • 1997 – the year that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved DBS in the U.S.
  • 100,000+ – the number of people who’ve had DBS surgery
  • $35,000 to $50,000 – the cost of DBS surgery (bilateral procedures may cost upwards of $70,000 to $100,000); Medicare and most private insurance carriers will cover most, if not all, of the costs of the operation, according to the National Parkinson Foundation (but check with your insurance company and your doctor to be sure)
  • 1,000 – the approximate number of hospitals and healthcare centers that perform DBS around the world
  • 1,000 – the number of DBS surgeries some of the most experienced neurosurgeons have performed; PatientsLikeMe member tip: “If you decide to go through with [DBS], be sure and ask how many procedures the surgeon has done. The more they do it, the less risk for you.”
  • 336 – PatientsLikeMe members who’ve reported having DBS for Parkinson’s disease (join the community today to connect with these members and ask questions)
  • 131 – PatientsLikeMe member evaluations of DBS as a treatment for PD (join/login to see all 131)
  • 10 – the number of factors that neurologists may consider when deciding whether a person with PD may be a good candidate for DBS (for example, see these guidelines from the University of California, San Francisco [UCSF] and the University of Florida Health)

Talk with your neurologist about whether you’re a candidate for DBS, and consider seeking a second opinion. Primary considerations typically include:

  • Having a clear diagnosis of idiopathic PD (rather than atypical PD or more complex “Parkinson’s plus” syndromes)
  • Having good cognitive function
  • Showing clear improvement of motor symptoms with sinemet treatment (“In general [DBS] surgery makes the ‘off’ states more like the ‘on’ states but rarely does better than the best ‘on’ state,” according to UCSF)

For even more info, check out the National Parkinson Foundation’s Guide to DBS Therapy.

On PatientsLikeMe, members have mentioned DBS more than 2,000 times in the PD forum, discussing everything from the decision to have DBS to programming a DBS device and DBS outcomes. One member even keeps a blog about his experience with DBS.

Are you considering DBS or are you already using it as a treatment for PD? Join 20,000+ members living with PD on PatientsLikeMe to talk about this and other treatments.

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One Comment

  1. DBS is 30 years now helping people have a normal life despite PD. But in the Philippines, this will cost Php3.8 million. How on earth would that be available for the majority of YOPD people who are qualified to have DBS ?

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