Deep brain stimulation

The main treatment for Parkinson's is medication. But if the best available drug treatments no longer control your symptoms, you may be suitable for deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Deep brain stimulation is the main type of surgery used to treat Parkinson’s. Usually, it is most effective at improving motor (movement) 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 for Parkinson’s may be an option for people whose symptoms are no longer controlled well by the best available medication for their condition.
  • It is not a cure and does not stop Parkinson’s from progressing. But in many cases it has given people with the condition better control of their motor (movement) symptoms including tremor, speed of movements and involuntary movements (dyskinesia).
  • Like all types of surgery, there are risks involved with deep brain stimulation. Make sure you have spoken to your specialist and understand what complications there could be before going ahead. Ask them to write anything down that you are unsure about.

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

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Matt can’t remember life without Parkinson’s

Matt was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 8 years old. He estimates he's taken over 228,000 tablets in his lifetime. His symptoms can make the simplest things difficult. 

But deep brain stimulation (DBS) has helped Matt get a little bit of his everyday life back: 

"It has made a huge difference to my quality of life. Now I can turn over in bed at night and I can get up and go to the bathroom. It might not seem like much, but these things were a real struggle in the past.”


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]