New device eases the pain for those with Parkinson's | KOB 4

New device eases the pain for those with Parkinson's

Danielle Todesco
January 13, 2018 04:44 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The FDA has approved a new device that can help treat patients with Parkinson's.


It's like a pacemaker for the brain, and Dr. Jerrold Vitek from the University of Minnesota calls it a big advancement.

"It's a huge deal," he said. "You can turn the clock back in these patients."

Vitek has been studying the brain at the university for years. The device, created by Boston Scientific and called the Versice, is a new deep-brain stimulation system implanted in the chest with a wire on the side.

"It comes under the skin, into the back of the neck, behind the ear, and that connects to the leed that's then in the brain," Vitek said.

It's a tiny leed – only 1.27 millimeters – and it's surgically inserted in the head.

"We do the surgery while the patient is awake, so when we turn it on we can actually see the tremors go away," said Dr. Michael Park, also at the University of Minnesota.

It provides instant relief, and does so without pain. The reason? The brain doesn't house any pain sensors.

"It's a lot like real estate – location, location, location," Vitek said. "If you're off by a millimeter, you may not get the results you're looking for."

Deep brain stimulation itself has been seeing positive results for years, but just last month Vitek and Park both oversaw the very first patient to receive treatment from the new FDA-approved Vercise.

Park explained how it's different from other treatments.

"I would compare it to something like how our cell phones and smartphones have evolved," he said. "It just has more features, that means you can do more things with it."

Essentially, the device is more personalized. It has an independent contact control, which controls the amount of current and where it goes into the patient's brain, hitting the right spots and avoiding negative side effects.

"My personal belief is that, I think, the vast majority of patients would do well with this," Vitek said.

In Vercise's clinical trials, 40 people who received the device were studied. Of those, doctors found six problems directly related to it; things like infection where the leed was inserted and neck pain.

One person in the study died, but it was determined to be from pneumonia and unrelated to Vercise.


Danielle Todesco

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