Understanding The Risks & Benefits of Deep Brain Stimulation

Completing everyday tasks like eating, dressing, and brushing teeth may occur without a second thought. But what happens if the body’s motor control and grip strength aren’t what it used to be? Suddenly, those tasks can seem like major hurdles, let alone being able to practice hobbies like knitting, drawing, and reading. When this issue affects seniors, it can severely limit their independence, but there may be a solution to fix this problem. 

“Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, is a possible treatment that can reduce these symptoms and allow seniors to regain that independence with improved motor control,” says Jessica Smith, Community Outreach Director of YourLife™ of Wildwood Memory Care.

In this blog, we’ll go over what deep brain stimulation is and what its possible advantages and disadvantages are. 

What Does Deep Brain Stimulation Treat?

According to Johns Hopkins, deep brain stimulation is a neurosurgical procedure. It works by using electrical stimulation. During this procedure, small wires are implanted into the brain. A pulse generator is implanted in the chest. The generator sends electrical stimulation to the wires. DBS can be used as a treatment for the following disorders: 

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Dystonia
  • Essential tremor
     

While those with any of the above movement disorders can use medication as a treatment form, they may look into DBS because the medication may also strongly affect their daily lives. This treatment will not stop or reverse these disorders, but it can help with the symptoms, which means the patient may not need to rely on heavy doses of medication. 

A study found that DBS can help elderly patients with movement disorders and came to two important conclusions: 

  • Patients in the study had improved motor function
  • Overall patients required fewer doses of medication per day
     

With a possible method of reducing movement disorder symptoms and dependency on strong medication, it’s still important to understand the risks that come with this procedure.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of DBS?

Even if the deep brain stimulation surgery is presented as low-risk, issues can still arise during the procedure. If complications arise, whether it’s from improper placement of the wires or a reaction to the surgery, the patient could have: 

  • Brain bleeds
  • Breathing issues
  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac problems

If the surgery goes smoothly, the patient should stay vigilant for possible side effects.

  • Concentration problems
  • Infection
  • Headaches
  • Pain at the surgical site
  • Seizure

With any surgical procedure, there will be benefits and risks. If your loved one is interested in learning more about this procedure, discussing it with their doctor is the best way for them to have their questions answered. 

Connect with YourLife™ of Wildwood

We provide quality memory care to our residents so they’re getting the best treatment possible. Our team understands that it takes a unique approach from multiple angles of physical health, mental health, and social engagement to create wellbeing.


With our numerous amenities and resources, our residents can make a specialized plan taking their needs and health in mind from the first step. Want to learn more about our community? Reach out to us here.