For Parkinson’s Disease Patients, Effective Implantable Therapy Can Now Last Up to 15 Years

Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease (PD) impacts up to one in 15 individuals in the United States. People with PD often experience symptoms that impact their movement, like tremors, shuffling feet while walking, “freezing,” and stiffness in the arms and legs. While medications are available to help address these symptoms, they may become less effective over time or cause unacceptable side effects like uncontrolled movements called dyskinesias.

For Parkinson’s Disease patients seeking relief from some of their motor symptoms, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) can be a very effective treatment option. DBS is an individualized therapy delivered from a small pacemaker-like device, placed under the skin of the chest or abdomen. It sends electrical signals through very thin wires to a targeted area in the brain related to the symptoms they are experiencing. By “interrupting” the electrical signals causing the motor symptoms, DBS may help reduce tremors and other movement symptoms such as stiffness (rigidity). Compared to medications alone, DBS may provide additional hours of good movement control each day.1 Good movement control may make it easier to do everyday things like writing, dressing, and drinking and eating.

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“Before DBS, my tremors were so bad that I had to retire from my dental practice, ending a career that I loved earlier than I’d planned. Parkinson’s also really drained my energy — I was always tired and could only golf nine holes, which was a big disappointment,” says Jeff Scherr, a patient who received DBS therapy in 2020. “Now, I play with my four grandkids and can golf 18 holes. And best of all, I’m once again able to bring my wife her morning coffee — a routine I really missed when I couldn’t carry a cup without spilling.”

For patients receiving DBS therapy like Jeff, a new rechargeable device option can extend the life of the Medtronic Activa™ RC device from 9 to 15 years*, lengthening the time between battery replacements. The Activa™ RC wireless recharging system for DBS also makes recharging the implant faster** and more efficient than prior Medtronic charging systems. This easier and faster process opens the door for patients who previously wouldn’t have considered a rechargeable device.

Beyond the unforeseen benefit of potentially fewer charging-related clinic visits, the move toward easier-to-use wireless recharging is a prime example of using value-based medicine that may help make DBS therapy more efficient for patients. For those in areas where in-person visits with medical specialists are less accessible, instilling patient confidence through rechargeable technology is particularly meaningful.

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“During the COVID-19 pandemic we looked for new ways to reduce the demand on hospital resources and eliminate as many non-essential clinic visits as possible,” said Dr. Gordon Baltuch, Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “The ability to continue a patient’s DBS treatment uninterrupted by device replacement for 15 years, while improving the patient device recharge experience with the wireless charging system, has been especially valuable during this unprecedented time.”

“For Parkinson’s patients with severe symptoms, continued DBS therapy can be essential,” stressed Hanane Chaibainou, Nurse Practitioner, Department of Neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital. “With the updated wireless rechargeable technology patients have the ability to maintain their therapy in a comfortable environment. It gives everyone involved immense peace of mind.”

Medtronic DBS Therapy is not for everyone. A prescription is required. DBS Therapy requires brain surgery which can have serious and sometimes fatal complications. Other complications can occur and may require additional surgery. DBS Therapy may cause new or worsening neurological or psychiatric symptoms. For more information on Medtronic DBS Therapy, go to www.DiscoverDBS.com and for additional safety information, please call (800) 328-0810.

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*Activa™ RC devices eligible for the 15-year service life extension are those that have successfully been interrogated with the A610 application on the Medtronic Activa Clinician Programmer prior to reaching End of Service (EOS).

**Patients who had long charge times with Model 37651 Medtronic Implantable Neurostimulator Recharger (due to tilt, implant depth, and other challenges) can experience improvement with the wireless recharger.

  1. Medtronic DBS Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor Clinical Summary, 2015.

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