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Living with Parkinson’s After Deep Brain Stimulation

April 30, 2019

Myrna Molina had been living with the progressively debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease for nearly a decade before she heard about deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy – a neurosurgical therapy in which electrodes are implanted in areas of the brain and deliver electrical pulses to improve patients’ motor functions.

“I was receiving Botox injections and taking oral medication for several years, but my symptoms were getting worse,” says the 61-year-old IT administrator from Scotch Plains. “My whole left side would become painfully rigid. My hands shook, my balance was off, and I was falling a lot. Eventually, I was unable to drive myself to work.”

“I’m normally a very outgoing person. But I was embarrassed to be seen in public, and I became reclusive. The disease was ruining my life,” Myrna explains. “I’ve always embraced the power of science, and the more I read about deep brain stimulation, the more hopeful I became that it might work for me.”

Marcie L. Rabin, MD, a movement disorders neurologist with Overlook’s Atlantic Neuroscience Institute, agreed and set in motion a thorough evaluation with the movement disorders team to determine whether Myrna was a candidate for DBS. Diane Babek, RN, MSN, the Movement Disorders Program nursing coordinator, guided Myrna through the entire evaluation process, which ultimately confirmed that Myrna was an excellent candidate for the neurosurgical therapy.

Myrna subsequently underwent surgery to implant electrodes into specific areas on the right and left sides of her brain and place a small implantable pulse generator near her chest wall that delivers therapeutic electrical currents to control her tremors and rigidity.

“I’ll never have surgery anywhere else,” comments Myrna. “The entire staff in the neuro ICU is specially trained to care for patients with Parkinson’s. Diane was by my side from testing through surgery and my follow-up appointments, during which Dr. Rabin monitors and adjusts the device’s electrical settings.”

Today, Myrna walks without assistance, drives herself to work, and socializes with confidence. The tremors, the shaking, and the rigidity are gone, and she credits the movement disorders team with giving her life back.

“If you saw me now, you’d say, ‘Parkinson’s? What Parkinson’s?’”

Learn more about Atlantic Health System Neuroscience's Movement Disorders Program >