DBS Helped Theresa Little Live a Normal Life Again

Stephanie Specht's picture
By Stephanie Specht on April 14, 2016

 

When Theresa Little was first diagnosed with an essential tremor, she was able to control it with medication, but as time went on the tremors got worse and the medication was not getting the job done. An essential tremor is a nervous system (neurological) disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. The tremor can occur anywhere in the body, but it most often occurs in the hands, making a simple task such as drinking from a cup or getting dressed nearly impossible.

Joseph M. Ferrara, M.D., a Carilion Clinic neurologist at the Institute for Orthopaedics and Neurosciences, recommended a treatment called deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver carefully controlled electrical stimulation to precisely targeted areas in the brain. It works by electrically stimulating specific structures that control unwanted symptoms.

"DBS can be done on one arm or both arms," explained Dr. Ferrara. "DBS also works for tremors in other parts of the body, including the foot and head." 

The procedure can be used to treat common movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, essential tremors and dystonia. For Theresa, the procedure has allowed her to return to a normal life, something that had not been possible in years.