Ultrasound Parkinson's Disease

Ultrasound in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease

April is Parkinson’s Awareness month and this year the Parkinson’s Foundation is urging all of us to “Take 6 Minutes” to raise awareness for Parkinson’s Disease so that you and your loved ones can live Better Lives. Together. 

Every 6 minutes, someone will be diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in the U.S. – that’s 90,000 people diagnosed with PD every year.  Raising awareness can help improve treatments and find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

At USC we understand the impact of Parkinson’s disease first hand, having known employees within our own USC family, who have been afflicted.  This month we would like to do our part in helping to raise awareness by posting this blog concerning the use of Ultrasound in treating some of symptoms and the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by of low levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain.  The lower levels are thought to be due to a loss of dopamine-producing neurons.  The primary theory concerning the causes of Parkinson’s is a failure in the brain to maintain it’s normal “housekeeping” functions which allows for a cluttering of debris that interferes with the proper function of the brain.  The Dopamine function in the brain can be thought of as managing or syncing various areas and activities, basically providing communication to different areas and aspects of the brain processing functions.  When interference or debris clutters up these communications the resulting causes can be seen in physical tremors or shaking, rigidity of movement, hesitancy of motion and lack of movement fluidity.

The lack of dopamine through interference or disruption has been described as literal electrical noise that can be detected within the brain.  Introducing more dopamine to the brain through medications can sometimes be effect but has a tendency to weaken in effectiveness over time and in some cases may cause adverse effects due to dopamine treatments.

Alternate treatments such as Deep Brain Stimulation or DBS.  With DBS, tissue within the brain is stimulated to clear and maintain the communication pathways. DBS is also available for Parkinson’s dyskinesia and motor impairment.

DBS procedures are performed by making one or more small openings in the skull into which a wire is inserted and guided to the target area in the brain. The wire is then connected to a small neurostimulator implanted in the chest.

DBS is done routinely on both sides of the brain.  DBS has been an FDA-approved procedure for decades.  Although symptoms of PD progress with time and may show signs of a continuing degradation of a person’s condition, the effects of DBS itself do not worsen.  As symptoms worsen or degrade over time adjustments and changes to the DBS procedure can be performed.  Importantly DBS hardware can be removable if needed making it a reversible procedure.

Focused Ultrasound Treatment

A relatively new treatment for some of the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease is the introduction of Focused Ultrasound or FUS.  Focused ultrasound is an FDA-approved procedure that is non-invasive and can treat symptoms of PD such as shaking, stiffness, and other motor skill movement problems.  Patients who undergo the focused ultrasound treatment can go home the same day. 

Focused Ultrasound procedures are performed by aiming beams of sound energy deep into the brain, heating up and destroying cells associated with movement. Focused ultrasound is completely incisionless and performed without the need for anesthesia or an in-patient stay in the hospital. The procedure is performed while the patient is fully alert. 

Not all procedures make sense for every person with PD, so it is important to talk to your doctor about your options and carefully discuss the risks and benefits of any new treatment or procedure.

At Ultrasound Solutions we are excited to have ultrasound technology being used in the fight to treat the effects of Parkinson’s Disease.

Please remember to Take 6 Minutes and help to spread awareness of Parkinson’s Disease.