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How Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Helps Cognitive Function After a TBI

How Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Helps Cognitive Function After a TBI

If you need help living with your traumatic brain injury, call 347-602-9530 for effective and empathetic treatment. 

Have you or a loved one experienced a traumatic brain injury? Are you looking for treatments to help manage the condition? You might be an excellent candidate for deep brain stimulation.

As a highly regarded medical center for neurologists in New York, Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. offers the appropriate surgical treatment and can help you prepare for the procedure and recovery. Keep reading to learn everything you should know about DBS.

What Is Deep Brain Stimulation?

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a breakthrough medical treatment that helps people with a traumatic brain injury live a more fulfilling life. It involves inserting electrodes into certain areas of the brain affected by the injury. Similar to a pacemaker that uses electrical stimulation to keep the heart functional, DBS uses a device implanted into your chest to control the amount of stimulation to the brain.

How Does Deep Brain Stimulation Work?

Deep brain stimulation works by reducing the cognitive decline resulting from a traumatic brain injury. Depending on the injury, it targets a specific area of the brain and sends electrical stimulation to the affected tissues and nerves. According to multiple studies, DBS is an effective treatment and can increase executive function by up to 52%.

What Conditions Does Deep Brain Stimulation Treat?

A traumatic brain injury is an overarching term that includes several conditions affecting the brain’s ability to process information. Brainline.org estimates that 2.8 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries every year. Concussions are the most common form of traumatic brain injury, but other conditions can range in severity from temporary injuries to death.

The Federal Drug Administration has approved deep brain stimulation as treatment for the following conditions:

  • Dystonia
  • Essential tremor
  • Epilepsy that doesn’t improve with medication
  • Parkinson’s disease when medication isn’t effective
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

The administration is currently looking at research on other conditions that could improve with DBS. These conditions include addictions, Alzheimer’s, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and many more.

What Happens During DBS Surgery?

When you ask your doctor about deep brain stimulation surgery, they’ll use the following procedure to determine whether you can undergo the surgery and give you the highest level of care.

1. Eligibility

Your healthcare team will discuss your medical condition and history to determine whether you’re eligible for DBS surgery and how much risk the treatment may pose. Once they’re confident you’ve weighed the pros and cons and have given it considerable thought, they’ll schedule you for the surgery.

2. Preparation

Your healthcare team will perform some imaging tests, such as an MRI, to examine the details of your brain, locate the site of the injury, and determine where to place the electrodes.

3. Surgical Procedures

The procedure involves two separate surgeries: one for your brain and one for your chest.

Once they know the area to implant the electrodes, you’ll enter surgery and fit your head with a special brace to keep you from moving. To test the implants, they’ll ask you to stay awake during the surgery, though you won’t feel any pain.

The doctor will then put you to sleep to implant the pulse generator near your collarbone. Both surgeries take a total of a few hours.

4. Followup

You’ll require several weeks to recover from the surgery, during which time your doctor will maintain contact with you to keep a close eye on your condition.

Risks of Deep Brain Stimulation

While considered a low-risk operation, deep brain surgery entails some risk. In rare cases, you might experience excessive bleeding, stroke, infection, trouble breathing, heart problems, or seizures.

Stimulating the brain also carries the potential for complications, including:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Face or arm muscle tightness
  • Speech problems 
  • Balance issues
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vision changes, including double vision
  • Mania, anger, depression, and other mood changes

Additional Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Treatment NYC

Other treatments for traumatic brain injury include:

  • For minor injuries, the doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain medications and let your body heal itself.
  • Immediately following the injury, emergency care usually involves maintaining oxygen to the brain and preventing further injury.
  • Your doctor may prescribe certain medications, including anti-seizure, coma-inducing, and diuretic drugs.
  • Emergency surgery can include removing blood clots, relieving pressure or bleeding in the brain, and repairing skull fractures.
  • Your doctor may prescribe various rehabilitation practices such as therapy, a social worker, or a vocational counselor.

Deep Brain Stimulation With a Neurologist in NYC

If you’ve experienced work-related brain injuries or some other form of TBI, consider asking your doctor about deep brain stimulation. The experts at Neurodiagnostics Medical P.C. offer a variety of treatments that can help you treat traumatic brain injuries and other neurological disorders.

Our doctors accept most insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available. To book an appointment, call (347) 602-9530.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to the most common questions about deep brain stimulation.

Does Deep Brain Stimulation Have Any Downsides?

One downside of DBS stimulation is that it doesn’t improve certain conditions, such as problems with balance. As an invasive surgery, it involves some risk to the patient.

Can Deep Brain Stimulation Improve Life Expectancy?

Deep brain stimulation can improve the life expectancy of people with certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s. According to VA and Medicare records, people with Parkinson’s who received DBS lived an average of six months longer than those without the treatment.

What Is the Success Rate of Deep Brain Stimulation?

One study showed a success rate of DBS around 75% for patients with Parkinson’s. However, the success rate depends on several factors, including the condition you have, the severity of the symptoms, and the quality of care you receive from healthcare providers.

How Many People Have Deep Brain Stimulators?

Around 160,000 people have had deep brain stimulators, according to Dr. Michael Fox, director of the Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

About The Author

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D.

Ashwin Malhotra, M.D. is a highly respected neurologist based in New York City. With over 20 years of experience in the field of neurology, he has earned a reputation as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders and traumatic brain injuries. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Malhotra is also a dedicated educator and researcher. He has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed medical journals and has presented his research at national and international conferences.