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Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is a surgery to implant a device that sends electrical signals to brain areas responsible for body movement. Electrodes are placed deep in the brain and are connected to a stimulator device. Similar to a heart pacemaker, a neuro stimulator uses electric pulses to regulate brain activity.

DBS can help reduce the symptoms of epilepsy, Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders. Once surgery is complete, the DBS device is programmed in the outpatient clinic by a neurologist or epileptologist. Successful DBS allows people to potentially reduce their medications and improve their quality of life.

DBS therapy was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017, 2002 and 1998. This therapy is also approved in Europe, Australia, Japan and Canada.

John Clemens of Ormond Beach, Florida, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002. Medication helped quell the tremors initially, but as symptoms worsened, he decided to undergo surgery for deep brain stimulation.

Deep brain stimulation: Conditions

Deep brain stimulation is approved to treat a number of conditions, such as:

DBS does not eliminate a patient’s condition; however, successful treatments will help reduce symptoms. In some cases, medications may still be required.

Deep brain stimulation: Am I a candidate?

Before being considered a candidate for DBS, patients must undergo an extensive evaluation process. Our multidisciplinary team of neurologists and neurosurgeons work with a neuropsychologist/psychiatrist to assess patients based on their condition.

Some patients may additionally require a speech and swallowing evaluation and psychiatric evaluation for treatment of active affective disorders.

How does it work?

  • The deep brain stimulation device has thin wires that carry electrical impulses from the neurostimulator device directly to the brain to modulate the brain circuitry to help reduce the patient's symptoms.
  • DBS does not damage healthy brain tissue or destroy nerve cells. Instead, the procedure interrupts problematic electrical signals from targeted areas in the brain to improve motor symptoms.
  • The DBS neurostimulator is a battery-operated device that can be programmed like a tiny computer, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to control symptoms.
  • The device is programmed by your neurologist to deliver tiny electrical impulses to control symptoms and improve quality of life.
Daryoush Tavanaiepour, MD, professor and chair of UF Health Neurosurgery – Jacksonville, explains deep brain stimulation and how it works like a pacemaker for the brain.

Is deep brain stimulation helpful?

DBS is not a cure but can decrease the number and severity of conditions in many people.

The positive effects of DBS therapy may not be seen right away. It can take up to several months to completely program the device. For patients with epilepsy and dystonia, the longer the device is stimulating the better the benefits or reduction of symptoms.

DBS is typically used together with medication. Like other devices used to treat epilepsy or Parkinson’s, if seizure or tremor control improves with DBS, medicines may be lowered to lessen side effects.


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Community and Patient Programs: Deep brain stimulation

Our community and patient programs provide great value to patients, families and loved ones. People can find support, educational materials, expert consultants and more. In most instances, these programs are offered free of charge.

  • Parkinson's Disease Support Group

    Meets on the second Wednesday of each month, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the UF Health Jacksonville Towers, 580 W. 8th St.

  • Tai Chi for Neurology Patients

    Tai chi classes for patients and caregivers with neurologic conditions such as Parkinson's, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and neuropathy.

  • Yoga for Neurology Patients

    Yoga classes for patients and caregivers with neurology conditions such as Parkinson's, stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and neuropathy.

News and Patient Stories: Deep brain stimulation

More Deep brain stimulation stories