Parkinson's symptoms get worse over time. The right time for DBS is when medications alone aren't providing enough relief, but still have some effect. The right time to talk with your doctor about DBS is now — so you know all your options and can act at the right time.
You're probably taking medications to help control movement symptoms like tremor (shaking), slowed movement (bradykinesia), and stiffness (rigidity).
One common Parkinson's medication, levodopa (for example Sinemet*), is typically very effective at first, but less so over time. As Parkinson's progresses, doctors prescribe more or different medications, and have you take them more often. The higher doses may not bring the relief you need and can lead to side effects like nausea, dizziness, or unintended movements (dyskinesia).
The right time for DBS is when your medications still work, but not as well as they used to.
Watch for these signs that your medications are not working as well as they used to:
“One day I could do needlework — the next day I couldn't. At one point I was taking the maximum amount of drugs and feeling groggy and nauseous all the time.”
— KarenView Her Story
Research now shows that deep brain stimulation may be appropriate for people who have had Parkinson's for at least 4 years and at least 4 months of movement symptoms not well controlled by medications or medication side effects such as unintended movements (dyskinesia).1
Why wait? Talk to your doctor about DBS before your symptoms are disabling.
DBS therapy continues to be appropriate for people in a more advanced stage of Parkinson's disease, and there is no upper age limit restriction.2
If you wait until your medications no longer help, DBS will no longer be an option — so don't think of DBS as "a last resort." Instead of just putting DBS off until someday in the future, talk with your doctor about it now. That way, you will be ready to start at the right time.
The patient profile examples below can help you determine if DBS may be a treatment option. Select the profile that sounds most like you—even if only a few descriptions fit.
If this sounds like you, talk with your doctor about other treatment options for now and later.
If this sounds like you, discuss DBS with your doctor.
If this sounds like you, talk with your doctor about DBS soon.
If this sounds like you, talk with your doctor about your treatment options.
* Sinemet is a registered trademark of Merck and Co., Inc.