In 2009, Andrew Johnson, 35, was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson’s disease. Last November, and again in February, he underwent a procedure, during which surgeons implanted a device in his brain that controls his tremors. Today, you’d never guess he suffers from Parkinson’s – but watch what happens when he turns his new implant off.
Johnson flips the switch on his device at the 2:00 mark, but for the full effect you’ll want to watch from the beginning. When his hands and head are at rest, you’re witnessing the stunning effects of a procedure known as deep brain stimulation (DBS). The surgery involves the implantation of a brain pacemaker. Like the artifical pacemaker you might find attached to someone’s heart, a brain pacemaker is used to generate electrical impulses, only instead of targeting heart muscles it targets specific regions of the brain. In patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, DBS is used to treat motor symptoms when other forms of therapy fail.
As Johnson points out on his blog, DBS is not a miracle cure – it’s an FDA-approved surgical procedure that’s been cleared for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease for over a decade now. That being said, Johnson has responded to the treatment extraordinarily well.