Infinity Deep Brain Stimulation

The Infinity™ Deep Brain Stimulation System is an iOS-compatible device that is implanted in the brain to help people with conditions such as Parkinson's disease and essential tremor stop shaking. It is best for patients whose medications have become less effective over time. While it doesn't cure the disease or stop its progression, it can make a big difference in quality of life.

To learn more, call 913-588-1227 or 844-323-1227.

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New System Controls Tremors via Apple Device

A modern treatment for Parkinson's disease symptoms now available in Kansas City

Imagine how difficult life would be if your hands, arms, legs, jaw or face shook uncontrollably. If you couldn't move quickly. If your balance and coordination were impaired. These are the difficulties faced by nearly 11 million U.S. people who suffer from Parkinson's disease and essential tremor.

Shaking and involuntary movements can make everyday activities such as dressing, bathing, eating, walking and even thinking nearly impossible. In Kansas City and elsewhere, treatment for Parkinson's symptoms often includes medications, but they tend to lose effectiveness over time and require larger and more frequent doses. Higher doses can cause a number of unwanted side effects, such as involuntary movements.

"It's often a rollercoaster for the patient, affecting how they can live their life," says Rajesh Pahwa, MD, a neurologist at The University of Kansas Health System. "As the medication becomes less effective, we increase the dose, but then we see side effects. So we decrease the dose, and then the patient has more Parkinson's symptoms."

Standard therapy gets an upgrade

One technology used to control tremors and shaking is known as deep brain stimulation, or DBS. Often referred to as "a pacemaker for the brain," DBS uses a small pulse generator to deliver electrical signals to wires or leads placed in the areas of the brain causing symptoms.

DBS has been around since the late 1990s, but it had limitations. The newest generation, called the St. Jude Medical Infinity™ Deep Brain Stimulation System, allows patients to control their tremors with the tap of a button on their iOS device. The system was recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration and is currently in use at a handful of hospitals across the country. The University of Kansas Health System is one of the few academic medical centers to offer the infinity treatment and has provided it to about 20 patients in Kansas City since November 2016.

Infinity Deep Brain Stimulation is an iOS-compatible device that helps control symptoms of movement disorders such as Parkinson's.
Image provided courtesy of St. Jude Medical, Inc.

Improvements provide precision and control

The new technology is better than previous versions in two ways:

  • It's more precise, and it's programmable by an Apple iPad or iPod Touch. Patients can turn it on and off and adjust it themselves.
  • Older DBS devices included only four contacts in the brain. The new one has eight. That means the surgeon can place and control the contacts more precisely.

"With the older device, we had fewer options for programming," says Dr. Pahwa. "So if we pushed power to one contact, we would get too much power there and cause side effects. Now, we can be much more precise in placement and programming to control just the right areas for each patient's unique condition."

The system's software can also be upgraded as new technologies become available, without additional surgery for the patient.

A complement to medication

Good candidates for DBS are patients with Parkinson's disease or essential tremor who have been on medication for 8-10 years and are experiencing the ups and downs of constant medication adjustments without consistent symptom control. The device is meant to complement, not replace, existing medications and can improve the medication's results, so it works more predictably and has fewer side effects.

The DBS device is placed during surgery. Surgeons put the pulse generator in the chest cavity and position wires, or leads, in specific areas of the brain that control movement. About a month later, the patient returns to the doctor for wireless programming. Monthly visits continue so doctors can check and adjust programming as needed. The patient can then turn the device on and off and make adjustments directly, using an iPad or iTouch.

Improved quality of life

Although DBS can control symptoms of Parkinson's disease and essential tremor, the technology does not cure the conditions or stop their progression. However, it  can greatly impact quality of life.

"Patients can do a lot more than they could before. There's no more rollercoaster; their lifestyle becomes more predictable," Dr. Pahwa says.

To learn more about this innovative treatment, call 913-588-1227 or 844-323-1227.