Tremors Abate After Deep Brain Procedure


suzanne_final 600size“The tremors and fatigue got so bad, my arm would seize up and, ultimately, I had to quit my job.”

That was the low point for Parkinson’s patient Suzanne Wyper, an Austin massage therapist with Parkinson’s disease.

For several years, Wyper struggled with the effects of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative condition of the central nervous system that causes tremors, loss of mobility and speech, and in some cases dementia and death. Her frustration grew after several neurologists provided no relief.

But that would change dramatically.

“I heard about deep brain stimulation as a way to relieve my symptoms,” she said.

It was a good choice for Wyper, whose story recently aired on KXAN-TV. With deep brain stimulation, a device called a neurostimulator is implanted to deliver electrical stimulation to targeted areas in the brain that control movement. This blocks the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors and other Parkinson’s symptoms.

buchanan_viewing_image 450sizeIn December 2015, Dr. Robert Buchanan, a top neurosurgeon with the Ascension Seton Brain & Spine Institute, performed Wyper’s deep brain stimulation at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Her procedure was the first in the world to use a new 3-D CT scanner, the MedTronic O Arm 2, that helps surgeons better visualize the patient’s brain and, thus, more precisely place the electrodes in targeted areas.

“The brain moves,” Buchanan noted. “Close is good. You know it sounds ridiculous, like playing horseshoes, right? Close is pretty good. But we would like to be perfect because perfect is better.”

Immediately, Wyper found relief.

“It’s been remarkable,” she said. “I’m not having the balance issues and my tremors are much better. It’s phenomenal.”

Suzanne’s walk is steady again. She no longer needs her dog Buddy to help her up after she falls. And she would love to return to work as a massage therapist.

Deep brain stimulation offers people with Parkinson’s disease much hope.

“At some point in the progression of their disease, all Parkinson’s patients should really think about getting deep brain stimulation,” Buchanan said.

How You Can Help

You can help bring more doctors, research, and specialized care, like Suzanne received, to Austin with your gift to support Dell Ascension Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas. Make a donation today!