Embedded electrode brings relief to Parkinson's patient

- Twelve years ago, Lenny Sloan faced one of the toughest moments in his life.  His doctors diagnosed him with early onset Parkinson's disease.

"I think my wife and my kids were more afraid then I was," he said.

While medicine can treat Parkinson's, it has its limits -- and it can cause side effects that continue to worsen.  But there is a procedure that can help.  It's called deep brain stimulation. 

When Lenny's doctors brought it up to him, he said, "Go for it."

"It was new to me.  I trusted the doctor and the process and the procedure," he said.

The procedure involves brain surgery.  Doctors implant an electrode in the brain and a battery-operated pulse generator beneath the collarbone.

"We put this stiff electrode down through the brain layers," explained Dr. Sutherland.

Once the system is in place, electrical impulses are sent from the generator to the brain.

"You feel relief immediately," Sloan said.  "It's as though you are lying there and your muscles are tight and then you just sit up."

The procedure is now available at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.  Doctors like Dr. Sutherland, the medical director for Neuro Challenge Foundation and director of Southeastern Center for Parkinson's Disease, hope those suffering with Parkinson's will give it a try.

"I have had several patients tell me it's giving them their life back. They were able to do the things in their lives they have had to give up," he said.

Lenny said he's living proof.

"To me, when I look back on it, it was very worthwhile," he added.

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