New device lessens tremors

Local News

For many people living with Parkinson’s Disease, everyday life can be a struggle.  But, a procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation combined with the latest technology, could make life easier.

Merle Clark suffers from constant and severe tremors that have gotten worse over the years.  “Right now, I can’t type, I can’t write, I can’t drive.  I don’t go out in public very much ’cause people look at you all the time.  I just want to go back to normal.”

But, thanks to a simple device implanted in his skull in March, his outlook on life has changed.  The device is the Infinity DBS by Abbott.  Clark is just one of about 10 UPMC Hamot patients with Parkinson’s who are trying out this new technology.  

It’s been two months since the device was surgically implanted.  It’s made up of a pacemaker battery and wires that run from his chest to the front of his brain to help control the tremors. 

It’s called ‘Deep Brain Stimulation,’ and UPMC Neurologist Dimitrios Nacopoulos explains, “We wirelessly remote into his pacemaker battery and change settings to control tremor among other symptoms like stiffness and slowness.”

Clark tells us, “I don’t know what to say… look… I don’t quiver, quake.  It’s been wonderful.”

Now that the device has been implanted and turned on, there is just some tweaking to do over the next few months to get it just right.

Nacopoulos says, “There are several different areas where stimulation can be sent to that allow for finer tuning of where we send the stimulation.”

Clark says the procedure has changed his life, and through it all, he’s maintained his sense of humor.  “I like showing people, ‘there’s an app for that!'”

UPMC Hamot is just one of a handful of hospitals offering this new technology for Parkinson’s and other movement disorders.  If you’d like more information or if you are a candidate for this procedure, you can contact their neurosurgery team at 412-647-3685.  To learn more about the device itself, you can click this link to view Abbott’s website.

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