Cutting edge Parkinson's treatment provides relief from symptoms - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Cutting edge Parkinson's treatment provides relief from symptoms

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PHOENIX -

Parkinson's disease not only affects the body, making moving around difficult, but it takes away the person's sense of individuality and confidence.

Barrow Neurological Institute has long been on the cutting edge of new technology to fight this disease, and we're sharing one man's story that is sure to inspire others.

The procedure isn't new, it's been FDA approved for about 10 years, but Barrow is taking Parkinson's treatment to new levels. Barrow patient Dave Ferrin told us he wants others suffering from this debilitating disease to listen up.

Dave Ferrin was your typical family man -- taking business trips, working long hours -- then Parkinson's became a part of his life back in 2005. Early onset at age 49.

Today we followed Dave through a typical checkup at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joe's, and it's worth noting his symptoms seemed under control, if not completely undetectable -- thanks to a procedure called deep brain stimulation or DBS.

"He's talked to a few, gotten a few referrals, and they're really nervous about doing brain surgery… its only brain surgery," laughs Korinn and Dave Ferrin.

Dave is one of about a 100,000 Parkinson's patients worldwide to receive the treatment, which requires surgery to implant wires that deliver electrical impulses to the brain -- giving the patient more control of movement and motion.

"It's an exciting time, this is a time really with Parkinson's disease that patients should not lose hope," says Dr. Anthony Santiago, Barrow Neurologist.

Dr. Anthony Santiago says the hope is in symptoms management when medication falls short. There is still no cure for Parkinson's.

DBS uses kind of a pacemaker technology, where you implant a device into your chest. But instead of stimulating the heart it stimulates the brain.

Dr. Francisco Ponce performed Dave's brain surgery. He says this operation, while not a miracle, really gives the patient a new lease on life.

"Sometimes the stories I hear from these patients, your eyes start welling up with tears because they've been disabled. this disease is debilitating," says Dr. Ponce.

Dave's has had reduced symptoms for a year. So to demonstrate, Dr. Santiago switched off the device. Almost immediately the tremors, the stiff muscles, and the insecurity came back. [Play video]

Dave endured those moments for us to share his story with others.

"It's like night and day with it, it's so much more different for me now that I can function," says Dave.

"I think it's really improved his relationships with everyone, because his confidence is back. not just his ability to perform but a sense of himself," says Dr. Santiago.

"I can take on work that I couldn't do before. I can do things I couldn't do before. I can ride my bike. I can do all sorts of things that are amazing," says Dave.

Brain surgery that used to take 6, 8, maybe 10 hours with the patient alert the whole time now takes just an hour and a half. The patient goes under for the procedure, and Barrow is one of only two hospitals doing things this way.

Dave Ferrin hopes all Parkinson's patients take advantage if they qualify -- his life has improved greatly for it.

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