Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been a therapeutic option, but mostly an experimental one, for a number of neurological conditions. While electrically stimulating the brain offers great possibilities in medicine, besides watching for changes in patients’ symptoms it has been difficult to analyze what effect DBS has on the brain.
Medtronic recently unveiled its Active PC+S stimulator that provides DBS therapy while recording brain signals that can shine more light on what effect this has on the patient. Being able to monitor brain activity may allow doctors to improve implantations, perfect the programming of these devices, and hopefully lead to smart stimulators that adjust their behavior in response to changing brain signals. To that end, the first Activa PC+S devices have been implanted in U.S. patients as part of a clinical trial evaluating the value of recorded brain signals in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
The first two implants of the Activa PC+S DBS system in the U.S. took place at Stanford Hospital & Clinics and the UC San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center in patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. Research teams led by neurologist Helen Bronte-Stewart, M.D., director of the Stanford Movement Disorders Center and professor of neurology and neurological sciences at the Stanford University School of Medicine, andneurosurgeon Philip Starr, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery and surgical director of UCSF’s Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence, are the first in the U.S. to use the Activa PC+S system.
“While DBS therapy is widely proven to treat symptoms of advanced Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, the ability to collect and analyze data demonstrating how the brain responds to this therapy was not possible until now,” said Dr. Starr, whose early research studies and collaboration with Medtronic helped lead to first human uses of the Activa PC+S DBS system. “At UCSF we are leveraging the broad capabilities of this new device by implanting recording electrodes in the deep brain structures that have traditionally been targeted by DBS and also in crucial areas of the cerebral cortex. This may help give us a better understanding of how Parkinson’s disease and other devastating conditions progress in the brain.”