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Hollywood first in Australia to deliver latest advancement in Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor treatment

15/05/2017

On Monday 8 May 2017, Hollywood Private Hospital (Hollywood) became the first healthcare facility in Australia to use a new directional system to perform Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and more effectively reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Essential Tremor (ET).

PD is a progressive, degenerative neurological condition caused by incurable loss of neurons in the brain that produce dopamine. It causes trembling and stiffness in
the limbs and trunk, slowness of movements and difficulty walking.

ET is a neurological condition that causes a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk. It is slowly progressive and can become disabling in some patients, as well as causing embarrassment and social isolation.

DBS is known for its ability to help individuals with PD to regain dexterity and mobility,  restoring their independence. The treatment also reduces the patient’s need for medication. In ET, it suppresses tremor to the extent where people can lead normal lives again.

Using the directional system, the procedure involves mild electrical impulses which are generated by a stimulator that is implanted around the chest in a similar way to a pacemaker. The electrical stimulation travels along thin wires called leads to specific areas of the brain to target symptoms.

Neurologist, Dr Julian Rodrigues, and Neurosurgeon, Professor Stephen Lewis, performed the surgery at Hollywood. Professor Jens Volkmann from Germany and one of the world’s leading authorities on DBS, was also in attendance.

Dr Rodrigues said “We previously weren’t able to deliver precise electrical signals through DBS. By using the new directional system to steer the current we can provide a more personalised therapy and can redirect the current post operatively as patients’ symptoms develop.”

“The treatment is far more targeted and side effects caused by unwanted stimulation to neighbouring brain areas can be avoided. I’m looking forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on patients’ quality of life.”

Hollywood Chief Executive Officer, Peter Mott, added “This advancement in DBS further
enhances our reputation as one of the State’s leading providers of neurological services. Hollywood continues to invest in and deliver the latest treatments in neurology to ensure the best possible patient care and outcomes.”

Hollywood was the first private hospital in Western Australia to offer DBS. It was also the first facility in Australia to use DBS in conjunction with the AIRO intra-operative CT  scanner, a technology that gives surgeons greater accuracy and allows them to scan patients during surgery rather than patients having to be moved to other parts of the hospital.

Deep Brain Stimulation surgery

Dr Rodrigues and Professor Volkmann measure the patient’s responsiveness during surgery