DBS involves surgically placing electrodes in a specific region of the brain. These electrodes are attached to a neurostimulator (a pacemaker-like device the size of a stopwatch) that sends low-level electrical pulses to the brain, disrupting faulty signals that cause tremors or other movement symptoms. These electrical pulses alter the brain's circuitry, blocking the abnormal activity that causes movement disorders. Usually the device is implanted under the skin below the collarbone, but it could also be placed underneath other areas of the chest.
Unlike older treatments, DBS doesn't damage healthy brain tissue by destroying nerve cells. If a new treatment or cure is developed in the future, patients who opt for DBS now may still be eligible for whatever that new treatment might be.
Although DBS comes with certain complications, some patients and doctors believe that regaining control of body movements outweighs potential risks, many of which are manageable.