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A New Tool to Improve Parkinson’s Symptoms Faster

February 13, 2023

New technology is key to understanding the electrical signals in the brain so patients with Parkinson’s disease see symptoms improve faster than with standard deep brain stimulation (DBS).

In research recently presented by Hartford HealthCare specialists at the World Neurosurgery Conference in South Korea, commercially-available brain sensing technology called BrainSense™, paired with anatomical visualization technology, were tested and found to be valuable tools in quieting the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s.

“BrainSense is a method of detecting local electrical activity within a specific region of the brain. It generally measures the activity of a group of neurons,” says Patrick Senatus, MD, PhD, medical director of the DBS Program at Hartford HealthCare’s Ayer Neuroscience Institute. “Implantation of this system requires the same surgical approach as standard DBS surgeries. The difference is in the features of the battery.”

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“The multidisciplinary Ayer team uses precise imaging to find the place in the patient’s brain circuitry where nerve cells are misfiring, causing such motor symptoms as tremors, stiffness and slowness,” he explains.

The surgeon implants leads in that targeted region to eventually control cell communications and unwanted movement or behavior. In a second procedure, a pulse generator is implanted to power the electrodes.

“The electric energy from the stimulator desynchronizes the abnormal neural circuitry, allowing the brain to reboot,” Dr. Senatus says. “It’s remarkable to see the difference.”

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The BrainSense tools augment the team’s abilities, he adds. For example:

  • Live-streaming capabilities help specialists find the optimal stimulation settings to suppress symptoms.
  • Anatomical visualization helps with contact selection.
  • Objective feedback accelerates programming of the implanted devices, which helps the patients find relief faster.

“Using BrainSense, we are given additional information about the patient before they come into the office to have the device turned on,” says Toni DeMarcaida, MD, director of the Chase Family Movement Disorders Center, part of the Ayer Neuroscience Institute. “This allows us to speed up the time it takes to optimize the device, or find maximum symptom relief.”