Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a therapy that uses mild electrical pulses from an implanteddevice to stimulate the brain. A DBS system looks and operates much like a pacemaker—except that instead of sending pulses to the heart, it delivers electrical stimulation to aprecisely targeted area in the brain.To date, more than 40,000 people worldwide have undergone a DBS procedure forParkinson’s disease.1DBS has been proven to be effective in the management of Parkinson’sdisease and essential tremor symptoms. It has also been shown to be beneficial in thetreatment of the symptoms of dystonia and obsessive compulsive disorder, and the FDA hasapproved a humanitarian use exemption for these indications. DBS is also being investigatedfor use in treating depression and a wide range of other neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

Cases of electrical stimulation of the human brain were reported over a century ago.2,3 The useof DBS to treat Parkinson’s disease emerged in the late 1980s when a researcher namedAlim-Louis Benabid and his colleagues showed that chronic stimulation of an area of thethalamus could effectively alleviate tremor symptoms.2,3 Within the next several years,researchers explored other viable stimulation targets for treating Parkinson’s disease andessential tremor symptoms.The current stimulation targets include those that had previously been established as surgicaltargets through a procedure known as lesioning, a technique which involves the selectiveremoval of targeted, abnormal brain tissue. However, because DBS is reversible andadjustable, this procedure has been shown to have distinct advantages over lesioning.

A DBS system includes the following components:

-  Neurostimulator
   A surgically implanted, battery-operated device, whichgenerates mild electrical pulses.

-  One or more leads and extensions
   Thin wires that deliver the mild electrical pulses fromthe neurostimulator to the target area in the brain.

-  Programmer
   A device that allows a clinician to fine-tune the waythat electrical stimulation is delivered to the brain.

-  Patient controller
   A remote control that allows patients to check thebattery in their neurostimulator and to turn    theirneurostimulator on and off.