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Getting the Therapy
If your doctor feels deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy for essential tremor can help manage your symptoms, the DBS system will be implanted surgically. After your body heals, your clinician will program the stimulator and adjust it to the level that works best for you.
DBS is not right for everyone. Only a doctor experienced with DBS can determine if you are a candidate. Generally, the treatment is not for recently diagnosed individuals, or for those who are doing well on medication for essential tremor.
With DBS therapy, a team consisting of a neurologist, a neurosurgeon, and nurses works together to help you manage your treatment for essential tremor.
People who receive a DBS system usually describe the surgical procedure as demanding and exhausting. Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy for essential tremor is not right for everyone. Only a doctor experienced with DBS can determine if you are a candidate. Generally, the treatment is not recommended for people who have been recently diagnosed with essential tremor, or for those who are doing well on medications.
You may be a candidate for DBS if:
If your doctor determines you are a candidate for DBS, you will need to make the final decision about whether or not to choose the treatment.
Here are some suggestions to help you decide whether DBS is right for you:
Before you meet with your doctor, think about what you hope to learn. Prepare questions, and be ready to provide information about your medical history.
You’ll work with a variety of healthcare professionals as you consider or pursue deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy for essential tremor.
Part of the healthcare team’s job is to make sure you’re comfortable and satisfied with your treatment. Always ask for clarification if there’s something you don’t understand. Also, make sure to communicate any concerns you may have regarding the procedure or follow-up treatment.
Remember: You’ll get the best results from your treatment by actively participating in discussions with the members of your healthcare team.
People who receive a deep brain stimulation (DBS) system usually describe the surgical procedure as demanding and exhausting. There may be some discomfort during the initial stages of the surgery. However, the placement of the lead is not painful (your brain is not sensitive to pain). Your doctor will be able to answer any questions you may have about the procedure.
The evening before surgery, you may be instructed to stop taking all of your medications. This step lets your healthcare team best determine the effect of DBS therapy on your symptoms.
You will be admitted to the hospital either the night before or the morning of your surgery. You may have your head shaved prior to surgery to help prevent infection.
The duration of the procedure and the specific steps involved can vary. The surgery typically lasts 4 to 8 hours.
Your surgery may consist of the following steps:
Once your body has healed following the implant procedure, your clinician will program the neurostimulator to start sending the electrical pulses that help control your symptoms. He or she will adjust your stimulation wirelessly. The process is non-invasive and may take a few hours to complete.
It may take several visits to adjust the stimulation before the best settings for you are determined. Over time as the disease progresses, further adjustments may be necessary.
Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.