Jim Powell first noticed his left hand and wrist would move involuntarily. Then his left arm began to tremble. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014. In early 2019, his neurologist, Elise Anderson, M.D., encouraged him to look into deep brain stimulation.

Your support allowed us to bring deep brain stimulation to Providence to help to patients like Jim. DBS uses a small device that looks like a pacemaker. It is placed under the skin in the chest and sends electrical signals to brain areas involved in Parkinson’s disease. Electrodes are placed deep in the brain and connected to the stimulator. These electrical signals prevent the abnormal brain messages that cause symptoms of Parkinson’s.

While the drugs to treat Parkinson’s are effective, the side effects can be unpleasant. “A strong side effect is sedation,” said Jim. “Everything happens at a slower speed. It can also cause narcolepsy. It isn’t very pleasant.”

“As Parkinson’s disease progresses, medical therapy becomes less effective, and significant side effects develop with higher doses,” said Seth Oliveria, M.D., neurosurgeon who treated Jim. “In many patients like Jim, deep brain stimulation can provide a dramatic improvement in quality of life by addressing many of the most bothersome symptoms of the disease.”

About a month after surgery to implant the DBS device, it was adjusted. Once that process was over, “the tremor in my left arm just stopped. It was a great feeling,” said Jim. Now he no longer has to take medication during the day. He still takes medication at night, but it has fewer side effects. 

Where Jim once couldn’t use his left arm, by December he was able to help put up and remove Christmas decorations – something he hadn’t been able to do for five years. He’s able to do yardwork and help with other chores around the house.

Thank you for supporting the treatment that has helped him live a more normal life.


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