Frequently Asked Questions – DBS Therapy

What is deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy for Parkinson's disease?

DBS offers an adjustable and if necessary, reversible method for the treatment of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (PD).

How does the therapy work?

DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device similar to a cardiac pacemaker to deliver electrical stimulation to the parts of the brain that control movement. Stimulation of these areas blocks the signals that cause the disabling motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease. As a result, individuals may achieve greater control over their body movements.

What are the implanted components of a DBS system?

The DBS system consists of three implanted components:

  • Two leads implanted in the brain
  • Two extensions threaded under the skin from the head, down the neck and into the upper chest
  • One or two neurostimulators implanted beneath the skin in the chest below the collarbone and connected to the extensions

Is it possible to adjust the device settings?

The device settings and stimulation levels can be adjusted noninvasively by a clinician using a programming device.

What benefits does DBS offer?

Although there is no cure for Parkinson's disease, DBS may reduce some of the symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease.1

What are the potential risks of DBS?

Risks of DBS can include risks of surgery, side effects, or device complications. Please see Benefits and Risks for more details.

What is the history of DBS?

Neurologists and neurosurgeons have used electrical stimulation since the 1960s as a way to locate and distinguish specific sites in the brain. Brain stimulation technology was developed in the 1980s.

Does DBS cure Parkinson's disease?

There is no cure for Parkinson's disease at this time. DBS therapy may reduce some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease1, but does not cure the underlying condition. If the therapy is discontinued, your symptoms will return.

How effective is DBS for treating Parkinson's disease?

In the PD clinical study, 87% of patients demonstrated improved motor scores in the OFF medication state at the end of the 12-month evaluation.1


  1. Therapy Clinical Summary, 2003.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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