Parkinson’s patient first to receive brain implant that reverses symptoms

A British hospital is the first in the world to implant a brain device that reverses the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Now, its test patient is gushing over the results and says he’s gotten his life back.

Surgeons at Southmead Hospital in Bristol are implementing a tiny deep brain stimulation (DBS) device into the skull. It overrides the abnormal brain-cell firing patterns caused by Parkinson’s.

Twenty-five Parkinson’s disease patients have been selected for the trial at North Bristol NHS Trust that will finish next year. If the trial is successful, it will be possible to treat more Parkinson’s patients more easily.

The trial’s first patient Tony Howells, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s nine years ago, said the impact was “amazing.”

“Before the operation I went for a walk on Boxing Day with my wife and I got 200 yards (182m) from the actual car,” he tells South West News Service. “I had to turn around and go back because I just couldn’t walk. Then after the operation, which was 12 months later, I went on Boxing Day again and we went for 2.5 miles (4km) and we could’ve went further. It was amazing.”

Parkinson’s disease leads to parts of the brain becoming progressively damaged over years and currently has no cure. Symptoms include involuntary tremoring, slow movement, loss of automatic movement and stiff and inflexible muscles.

Most people develop symptoms when they are over 50, but around 5% of sufferers first experience symptoms when they are under 40. Traditional operations for Parkinson’s involve implanting a fairly large battery into the chest with wires that run under the skin through to the top of the head.

The new DBS system, the smallest that has ever been created, involves a tiny battery system for the device that is implanted into the skull. The device delivers electrical impulses directly to targeted areas deep within the brain. To do this, electric probes are put through the skull into the subthalamic nuclei (an area deep in the centre of the brain that is critical in regulating movement).

It takes just three hours to carry out the new operation, about half the time it used to with the larger battery.

“We are delighted with how this first case went in the operating theatre and with how the patient’s symptoms have been improved over the last year,” says Dr. Alan Whone, a Consultant Neurologist at North Bristol NHS Trust, who is leading the trial. “We are hopeful that if these findings hold-up, we will have a significant technical advance by which to improve Parkinson’s care across the world.”

Meanwhile, much to his delight, Howells says he is now able to play golf again and says DBS is “a great way to give somebody their life back.”

He adds: “You can’t understand how frustrating [Parkinson’s] is until it happens to you. The most difficult thing to accept is the decline in daily activities like tying-up shoelaces, taking three or four minutes instead of seconds. It affects your every day life no end”.

Report by South West News Service writer Lauren Beavis

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Steve Fink

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  1. Is there an estimated time frame as to when this may be available to retired Medicare or VA clients?

    1. I was wondering the same thing, many of the Parkinson patients are seniors like my grandfather, he contracted Parkinson’s late in life (age 83), he’s 88 now and totally miserable living with it. If not for the Parkinson’s he would be living a normal healthy life, he really has nothing else wrong with him. Just watch tho, I know a lot about Medicare and it would surprise me that they wouldn’t cover this procedure, if you’re not paying taxes into the system they don’t want you around anymore…All part of the New World Order that Daddy Bush and Senile China Joe Bin-Biden proclaimed we are living in now.

    2. Brain implants are the mark of the beast.
      Donald Trump is right. There is nothing that can’t be cured through prayer and drinking little holy water and bleach.

  2. I’m reading this article with tears streaming down my face. I watched my beloved father suffer and decline with Parkinson’s for twelve years – the thought that others, both now and in the future, can be spared the effects of this cruel disease is just overwhelming. I thank God for the researchers who have made this happen.

  3. Great, but the mercury in his body that cause the Parkinson’s will travel elsewhere and cause havoc. Do mercury detox with state of the art measures, and be symptoms-free permanently.

    1. Absolutely, mercury has it’s own brain and that brain is evil, so it will move to his liver and take up residence there so that it may do maximum evil.

      Bob… You are a moron.

  4. IF it can combat “essential tremors” sign me up! I can no longer write my name legibly and can use only one finger on my left hand and three on my right to type.


    1. I had deep brain stimulation surgery in late 2018. Miraculous fix for my essential tremors. That and glass of whiskey. Later came down with Parkinson’s. That has ruined my life.

  5. This is not true. MUSC in Charleston, SC has been doing these for test patients since 2018. An acquaintance of mine had the procedure done and has been living a great life since.

  6. This is just amazing. Could i be put on the next trial list. Willing to go through this procedure.

  7. I was in a Parkinson’s support group. Three of our members got DBS. All enjoyed immediate and major improvement. This lasted for several months. Then each began a steep decline. Two of them died within two years. The third is in a convalescent center. DBS is not a miracle.

    1. 14 years after I was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease, I had bilateral DBS surgery in 2010. The surgery was a miracle for me! For at least 9 of the 11 years since my DBS surgery, I appeared to not have Parkinson’s (PD) at all. Heading into year 12, I have been having minor returns of some PD symptoms, but nothing like what I dealt with before I had the surgery. The DBS is not a cure – it is a treatment – and it doesn’t work for every person. But, it does help most PD patients achieve a better quality of life. My results were exceptionally good – a fact for which I’ll ever be grateful.

  8. How wonderful science and tech has come, my daughter age 59 has been told she has CBD, no cure, maybe now possible …My daughter has so much talent that has been lost due to her CBD, maybe God willing she may at some point be able to be cured. She is losing short term memory and losing her sight… Mom

  9. How old is this article, I have had 2 DBS implants inserted, one for each side of my body. My first implant was done in 2019 and the second one in 2021. I have to admit they are wonderful, I show no symptoms of Parkinson’s and I stopped my Carbadopa / Levadopa right after the second implant.

  10. i am sick of these idiots always chasing the cure fro all these diseases…why don’t we find out the cause of all these horrible diseases…is that so much to ask. the same people that run the medical industry run the planet. they spray our skies, our land, poison our water, use poison to fight cancer…our food is fake, processed and GMO’d laced with chemicals, dyes and god knows what…gee, it is no wonder everyone is sick. why are we allowing this??? then to top it all off they want to vaccinate you and inject you with more poison that can completely destroy you. what a wonderful world we live in…the saddest part is the people go along with it. shame shame shame on the government, the farmers, the doctors and those satanic evil people that run this planet.

  11. I had a DBS Medtronics Programmable device implanted in my brain on December 8 2021, and as I was awake during the surgery, my symptoms were largely cured while on the operating table even before the implant was powered up. The neurosurgeon was holding my hand moving my arm on my afflicted side the whole time, checking my field of vision and making certain that the surgeon placing the implant was on target. Dr. Arif Dalvi of Boynton Beach Florida leads the team, and I visit him for quarterly “tune ups” of my device. As soon as the device was implanted my symptoms of stiffness went away, which put a big smile on Dr. Dalvi’s face as he felt my arm limber up. My point is that it worked instantly without the electrical power. In fact, I spent one night in the hospital, returned home, and did not get the device powered up for another week, requiring a second surgery on my chest and neck to run the wires. I noticed no significant difference afterwards, so the main thing is the proper placement of the stimulator, hitting the “bulls eye” so to speak is more important than the device in my case, and they tell me that if I turn it off every night I might get ten years out of the power pack. I am thrilled to report my progress to friends, my family is grateful, and the scar is only noticeable if I call attention to it.
    I have no tremors at all unless I get fatigued, and my stiffness which was my most profound disability has disappeared. I can enter and exit vehicles without a “spotter” again.

  12. This should be put on Facebook and other social media for the entire public to see. I have an older brother suffering from Parkinsons and I would love for his son and daughter to see this and ask his doctors about this procedure.

  13. I had Asleep DBS about 2 years ago to treat Essential Tremors. It should be emphasized that DBS is designed to treat ONLY the tremors associated with Parkinson’s. It has little to no efficacy against the other symptoms. The tremors were worse in my right side, and, I am pleased to say, that side is greatly improved. However, there is little to no improvement is my left side. My neurologist thinks that my neurosurgeon may have missed the exact core of my Thalamus with that lead. Asleep DBS is relatively new and involves taking a high-resolution MRI of the brain the day before the primary implantation, and then using it during surgery to pick the exact location (supposedly sub-millimeter) for the ends of the leads by aligning the pre- and current- MRI images

  14. Good article but poorly organized, which causes readers to entirely miss the point of the article: the size and source of the power needed to run the DBS system.

    The writer describes the NEW battery power system in paragraph 7. It’s a tiny system that fits in the skull – no Outside wires, and cuts the surgery implant time in half. Most people stop reading after the third paragraph, and as shown by the comments, many readers miss the point. DBS is not new. The tiny size, location of the battery, and other details of the system, is new and a potential game changer for some Parkinsons patients who do not trust DBS.

    This is an important development in The treatment of Parkinson’s. I suggest the author rearranges the article to highlight the new process and puts the old information second.

  15. Is it only the brain battery that is smaller, how about the wiring going down the throat and the transmitter in the chest? Are all this the same or these procedures are not necessary.

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