Friday, May 22, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Deep brain stimulation slows progression of Parkinson's disease in animal models

Researchers at the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati and University Hospital showed that DBS not only alleviates symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but also delayes disease progression. In DBS, high-frequency stimulating electrodes can promote the release of specific neurotrophic factor, which prevents the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain.

Please refer to the original article by clicking on the link below.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Westwego Rotary Club

Dr. Richter joined the Westwego Rotary Club for lunch today to tell them about the Southeastern Lousiana Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Coalition. They are the first organization to participate in the Coalition's first outreach effort -- a community needs assessment.

If you would be willing to fill out a very quick 10 question checkbox form, we would certainly appreciate your participation! email us at

We would especially appreciate the help if you are involved in any churches or groups who might be willing to help us with this. Please, let us know!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Recent research on DBS for PD patients looks promising

In this artcle, CNN discusses the largest study (led by Frances Weaver, Ph.D., director of the Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care at the Hines VA Hospital, in Hines, Illinois) that has been done on deep brain stimulation surgery for the treatment of Parkinson's disease.

Other researchers and doctors agree that this treatment option looks very promising.

Monday, December 22, 2008

WGNO Interview with Dr. Richter

About a month ago, Dr. Richter made his debut on WGNO news talking about movement disorders, namely Parkinson's disease, and the current neurosurgical treatments. Deep brain stimulation, a current treatment option for PD, is one of the main procedures that may be discussed on this blog site.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Are there early symptoms in Parkinson's Disease?

As in so many medical situations, the answer is yes... and no. The "cardinal triad" of PD: Bradykinesia (slow movements), rigidity (stiffness) and tremor (shaking), usually show up in a different order for different patients and usually start out on one side. By the time the patient has has all the symptoms on both sides, the diagnosis of a parkinsonian syndrome is obvious. commonly, though, it will begin with some shaking in one hand and progress from there. At that stage, there can be quite a bit of uncertainty as to what it represents. When the initial symptom is as vauge as some assymetrical stiffness, you can see how hard it is to be sure early on.

There is no definitive laboratory test to confirm the diagnosis. There are definitive pathological changes in the brain that can confirm the diagnosis, but very few would advocate brain biopsy to determine this earlier in the disease course. There are no proven preventative therapies or "neuroprotective" therapies that would slow the progression of the disease, so treatment centers on symptom reduction. For these reasons, early diagnosis isn't terribly helpful at this point.

Extensive research continues to search for neuroprotective treatments and the early diagnosis tests to make such a strategy effective.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Deep Brain Stimulation

This is a topic near and dear to my heart. DBS surgery is essentially what drew my interest to neurosurgery in the first place, years ago. It’s not exactly a new technique. In fact, it’s been FDA-approved in the US for nearly a decade.

In DBS, a small wire about a millimeter thick (the “lead” or “electrode”) with four different possible stimulation points (the “contacts”) is placed in a very specific spot in the brain. How that spot is determined are for another post on another day, and varies somewhat from situation to situation. Usually the process involves some form of stereotactic targeting and physiologic confirmation. The implanted wire is then pulled under the skin (“tunneled”) to a place where a pacemaker-like device (the “implantable pulse generator” or IPC, also often informally called the “battery”) is implanted, most commonly just under the collar bone (“subclavicular”).

DBS has wide-ranging applications, and is FDA-approved for Parkinson’s disease and Essential Tremor.

There are numerous other movement disorders for which it has been reported to be effective, and it has been used in the past for some complex pain problems. Most recently, it has received considerable attention for certain psychiatric indications, and most experts in the field expect FDA approval for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and major depression in the next several years.