Deep brain stimulation

Deep brain stimulation is a type of surgery used to treat Parkinson’s. Usually, it is most effective at improving motor (movement) symptoms.

The main treatment for Parkinson's is medication. But you may be offered deep brain stimulation (DBS) if drug treatments become less effective at easing your symptoms. 

A pulse generator (a device like a heart pacemaker) is placed under the skin around the chest or stomach area. It is connected to one or two fine wires that are inserted into specific areas of your brain.
When the pulse generator is switched on, the electrodes deliver high frequency stimulation to the targeted area. This stimulation changes some of the electrical signals in the brain that cause the symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Key points

  • Deep brain stimulation may help if drug treatments become less effective at easing your symptoms. 
  • It's not a cure and doesn't stop Parkinson’s from progressing. But in many cases it's given people with the condition better control of their motor (movement) symptoms including tremor, speed of movements and involuntary movements.
  • Like all types of surgery, there are risks involved with deep brain stimulation. Make sure you speak to your specialist to understand what complications there could be before going ahead. 

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Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's (PDF, 3MB)

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DBS and Me: Jo's story

Jo Yaldren was diagnosed with Parkinson's when she was just 47 years old. For Jo, deep brain stimulation is the light at the end of a tunnel. It’s given her, and her family and friends, hope that she can improve her quality of life. 

Through a series of intimate and very personal short documentaries, Jo shares her journey as she navigates appointments with consultants, NHS waiting times and, she hopes, the surgery itself.

Last updated January 2020. We review all our information within 3 years. If you'd like to find out more about how we put our information together, including references and the sources of evidence we use, please contact us at [email protected]