About Deep Brain Stimulation for Movement Disorders

High frequency electrical stimulation of certain brain structures was first discovered to improve tremor in the late 1980s. This technique, called deep brain stimulation (DBS), has since become the surgical treatment of choice for a variety of movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease, tremors, dystonia and tics when medications are not able to adequately control symptoms. The exact mechanism by which DBS improves movement disorders is not fully understood. It is thought that in these disease states, neurons within certain regions of the brain develop abnormal firing patterns that affect the function of the brain circuitry involved in controlling movement, thereby producing symptoms. When an electrical current is applied to these areas, the function of the circuit is improved, along with disease-related symptoms. The major advantage of DBS is that the stimulation parameters (polarity, frequency, pulse width, and voltage) can be "customized" to the needs of the individual patient.

DBS electrodes can be placed in different brain structures according to the disease state and reasons for requiring stimulation. The ventral intermediate nucleus of the thalamus (ViM), subthalamic nucleus (STN) and globus pallidus interna (GPi) are the most common sites of stimulation for movement disorders. There may be potential advantages to each site based on the specific symptoms in question. The DBS team at Baylor College of Medicine works together in the preoperative phase to determine the optimal site for stimulation in order to improve an individual patient’s symptoms.

DBS therapy is currently offered to patients with movement disorders that are not sufficiently controlled with medications. These conditions include Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dystonia and Tourette syndrome.

About Our DBS Program

Our DBS program focuses on patient care and research. We collaborate with biomedical engineering researchers to investigate the patterns of brain activity present in patients with movement disorders, to determine how these relate to symptoms, and can be changed in response to stimulation. These investigations will help improve the quality and delivery of DBS therapy in the future.

Patients interested in being evaluated to determine whether they are candidates for VIM, STN, GPi, DBS or other surgical treatments, should contact the Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Neurology at (713) 798-2273.

If you or one of your family members are interested in more information about DBS, please email us at pdcmdc@bcm.edu, with "DBS" in the subject line. 

Meet Our DBS Team

At the Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic, our DBS team performs comprehensive evaluations to determine if someone is a good candidate for DBS.

We recognize that the success of DBS surgery depends on several factors:

  • Appropriate patient selection
  • Proper electrode positioning in the operating room
  • Proper postoperative programming to achieve the maximum benefit from DBS without causing side effects
  • Reasonable expectations of outcomes following DBS treatment
  • Appropriate home and social environment to manage post-surgical care

We continually keep these factors in mind when approaching any patient considering DBS treatment. Our team works carefully together to ensure that all conditions are met throughout the entire process. In addition, we collaborate with members of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Movement Disorders Specialists

Joohi Jimenez-Shahed, M.D.

Director, Deep Brain Stimulation Program
Associate Professor of Neurology

Arjun Tarakad, M.D.

Assistant Professor of Neurology

Joseph Jankovic, M.D.

Director, Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic
Professor of Neurology

Neurosurgeons

Ashwin Viswanathan, M.D.

Director, Functional Neurosurgery
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Sameer Sheth, M.D., Ph.D.

Vice Chair, Clinical Research
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Neuropsychologists

Michele K. York, Ph.D.

Head, Division of Neuropsychology
Associate Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Adriana M. Strutt, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences