Unable to perform simple daily activities, Todd Glass believed he was going to suffer from the debilitating tremors for the rest of his life. A well-known luthier, Glass had a passion for guitar, repairing and tuning guitars in his spare time. However, due to the uncontrollable tumors he had suffered from since he was 2 years old, he was forced to discontinue his avocation. Glass had accepted his deficit, believed that he was going to have to live with essential tremor, the most common movement disorder, until his friend, Tyler Neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Detwiler offered him a solution.
The East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) offers a surgical procedure called deep brain stimulation, or DBS, to treat disabling neurological symptoms, such as Parkinson’s disease and other essential tremors. Dr. George Plotkin, Medical Director of the ETMC Movement Disorders Center discussed DBS with Glass. “He was struggling to do anything; not be able to do what he loved. He was [the] ideal candidate,” said Plotkin.
Dr. Detwiler performed the surgery, with Glass being awake for the procedure in order to calibrate the adjustments. Before starting the surgery, Glass could barely hold the guitar given to him, but ten minutes later “after we put the electrodes in, [Glass] was able to play, something he hadn’t [been able to do] in a long time,” stated Dr. Detwiler. Many present in the surgical room were also impressed at the immediate result DBS had on Glass. “The anesthesiologist’s jaw dropped, most of us in the room wanted to hold up a match and say more,” recalled Dr. Plotkin.
Over 7 million Americans suffer from essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that causes rhythmic shaking. Often confused with Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor is the most common movement disorder and affects the patient’s hands, head, voice, arms, and legs. It is thought to be caused by electrical fluctuations in the brain that send abnormal signals to the muscles. Patients with this disorder may struggle performing daily activities such as eating, drinking, writing, and even talking, if the voice box or tongue is affected.
Many patients who undergo DBS claim it is a huge life changer for them. “It’s definitely worth it,” admits Glass. Since his surgery, Glass’ anxiety of performing simple tasks is gone. “I don’t have any fear of going somewhere, going out to dinner…[and] embarrassing myself.”
ETMC has been performing the deep brain stimulation procedure since 2002. This procedure has brought relief to hundreds of patients by helping them perform daily activities without issues.
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