Chip implant helps Parkinson’s patients, doctor says

Staff Writer, with CNA

Tue, Sep 20, 2011 - Page 2

Implanting a chip into the brain can help people with Parkinson’s disease control symptoms associated with the disease and improve their quality of life, a doctor said yesterday after tracking a patient with such a treatment for a decade.

The man, surnamed Tseng (曾), was in his prime when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease two decades ago. Even after taking drugs for nearly a decade, his condition continued to deteriorate and he decided to accept the implant to control his illness.

Lin Hsin-jung, superintendent at China Medical University Beigang Hospital, said the body of a person with Parkinson’s disease is like a vehicle which has brakes that are too strong and hampers free movement.

Implanting the chip into the patient’s brain will stimulate a safe and effective electric current that will mitigate the “brakes phenomenon,” Lin said.

Tseng’s symptoms began to show when he was only 37. In the beginning, his limbs would shake involuntarily. He was advised to take drugs regularly, but after more than eight years, he had to increase dosage and the side effects disturbed his sleep. He developed hallucinations and vomited sometimes. His weight dropped to 50kg.

After the deep brain stimulation surgery, he has cut his drugs, limb shaking, body rigidness and other symptoms. He could even work and tour around with his wife and he is now happier than before.

Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, and the disease is more common among the elderly.

Taiwan has 40,000 people with Parkinson’s disease.

Most are given drugs in the initial stage, but there are commonly side effects after taking the drugs for many years, Lin said.

He said that about 600 Parkinson’s disease patients have received deep brain stimulation in the country.

Although the medical equipment to conduct such surgery is expensive, he said the quality of life of patients has greatly improved and they cut the cost of hiring caretakers.

“In this light, the surgery is economically more efficient than simply giving patients medicines,” Lin said.