Parkinson’s Breakthrough (7 News Perth)
Rob Scott (reporter)
It’s a delicate operation, the first of its kind in Australia. Surgeons at Hollywood Private Hospital are giving this Parkinson’s sufferer new hope.
Dr Julian Rodrigues (neurologist)
Oh it’s fantastic. So we’ve got these people who are struggling, they’re living from pill to pill, and they get their life back basically.
Doctors drill into his skull, before carefully implanting two electrical leads deep into his brain.
Deep brain stimulation has been around since the 90s, but this operation is a huge leap forward.
In the past the implants delivered a spherical electrical field, one doctors weren’t able to steer. The new directional leads allow the specialists to aim the current where they want it.
Professor Jens Volkmann (deeb prain stimulation specialist)
It’s similar to a lighthouse. We can beam current in specific directions.
The probe will travel 8 cm into this patient’s brain. Positioning is incredibly important. The surgeons must be millimetre perfect in order for the electrical impulses to have the desired effects, on the right parts of the brain.
Once the electrodes are in place, the patient is woken and within seconds of the implants being turned on, his symptoms ease.
Bob Murray has had Parkinson’s for ten years. For Bob it meant uncontrollable shuffling and the tell-tale shaky hands.
Bob Murray (Parkinson’s disease patient)
You might throw a coffee on the person next to you or something like that.
The 65-year-old is the third person in Australia to have the operation. Just 10 days later his symptoms have almost disappeared.
The walking is easier. The shaking is less.
It will be a few more weeks before Bob knows how successful the operation has been. But he is already looking forward to regaining the life he thought he had lost forever.
Rob Scott, Seven News.