Deep Brain Stimulation

Patients who suffer from Parkinson's Disease may be candidates for deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1997.  With DBS, a surgically implanted medical device delivers controlled electrical stimulation to targeted areas of the brain, similar to a cardiac pacemaker. The goal is to reorganize the abnormal brain signals that cause disabling motor symptoms.

DBS is a very effective treatment for some--but not all--persons with PD. Discuss whether you are a good candidate for DBS with the movement disorder specialist on your care team.

Finding A Movement Disorder Specialist in Northern California

If you live in Northern California, contact the APDA Information & Referral Center at Stanford for a referral to a movement disorder specialist near you. A movement disorder specialist is a neurologist with special training in Parkinson's Disease and other movement disorders.

Read Others' Experiences

To help decide if DBS is right for you, read about others' DBS experiences on the DBS Stories page.

Downloadable Documents | Online Articles | Podcasts & Webinars | Expert-level Resources

Downloadable Documents (PDF)

Deep Brain Stimulation and Parkinson's: From Decision Making to Daily Life with the Device

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, June 2021

This 24-page guide provides information and tips for thinking about, undergoing, and living with DBS. It answers common questions, discusses the latest research, shares personal stories of people with Parkinson’s and their loved ones, and provides a list of questions to ask at every stage of the process. Use it to begin learning about DBS, round out what you’ve read or heard from others, or start or continue a conversation with your doctor or loved ones.

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease: Essential Facts for Patients

Published by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS), 2016

This 1-page fact sheet (PDF) summarizes the motor symptoms of advanced PD, how deep brain stimulation (DBS) can help, who should consider DBS and how patients are chosen for the procedure.  It talks briefly about the procedure and its risks, what happens after the procedure and the short, medium and long-term results.

I Decide DBS

Published by the University of Colorado at Anschutz, Department of Neurology

This website has 13 pages that explain what Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is, what Parkinson's symptoms DBS does and doesn't treat, the overall risks and benefits, a personalized symptom relief tool, when you should consider DBS, alternatives treatments, the evaluation process, surgery timeline, support needed before and after surgery, device options, a self evaluation worksheet, and questions to ask your medical team.

Information About Deep Brain Stimulation to Discuss With Your Doctor

Published by the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA), June 2018

This 2-page fact sheet (PDF) explains what deep brain stimulation (DBS) is, what benefits DBS offers, the risks of DBS, who is a good candidate for DBS, and what happens during and after the procedure.

Surgical Options: A Treatment Guide to Parkinson's Disease

By Michael S. Okun, Adolfo Ramirez-Zamora, Pamela Rose Zeilman, Matthew Barabas, and Teri Green.  Published by the Parkinson’s Foundation, October 10, 2019

This 64-page book (PDF) focuses on deep brain stimulation (DBS), duopa therapy, lesion therapy, and focused ultrasound. It is a practical guide to explain the complete process required for people with Parkinson's and families considering surgical therapy. The content describes the decision to have surgery, the day of surgery, and surgical recovery. This book is intended to facilitate a discussion of surgical options with family, friends and healthcare team members. Available in PDF or in paper form via mail.

Online Articles

A Stanford Neurosurgeon Answered Questions about Deep Brain Stimulation

Published by the Parkinson's Community Outreach Program, June 24, 2020

Stanford’s Parkinson’s Community Outreach Program hosts a quarterly deep brain stimulation (DBS) support group meeting for those wanting to learn more about this surgical treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD). The June 2020 meeting featured Dr. Daniel Kramer, a neurosurgeon and clinical instructor at Stanford, who answered audience questions pertaining to DBS. 

About the Therapy DBS for Parkinson's Disease

Published by Medtronic

This is Medtronic’s main page for information about DBS therapy for Parkinson’s disease.  Links direct you to further webpages with text and videos on “How DBS May Help,” "The Right Time to Start," "Getting DBS: What to Expect," "A Closer Look at DBS Surgery," personal stories and professional commentary.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Published by the Michael J. Fox Foundation

This short webpage explains that DBS delivers electrical pulses to brain cells to decrease symptoms and has largely replaced older surgeries involving targeted destruction of brain cells contributing to symptoms.  It discusses the benefits of DBS, evaluation prior to DBS surgery, the procedure and device programming, how DBS works, and research on DBS and Parkinson’s.

Deep Brain Stimulation

Published by the Parkinson's Foundation

This webpage provides a brief overview of DBS, what symptoms it improves, the components of the system, brain targets, prognosis and a quick checklist to see if you are a good candidate for DBS.

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease

Published by WebMD

This extensive series of webpages answers questions about deep brain stimulation (DBS) from the basics -- how does DBS work, what are the advantages and risks -- to the more obscure -- such as use of electrical devices after surgery.

When to Start Learning about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, May 23, 2024

This comprehensive article provides an overview of DBS, who is eligible, when DBS should be considered (you can wait too long), how DBS can improve quality of life, and ways to learn more about DBS that you may not have thought of.

Podcasts & Webinars

The ABC'S of DBS

By the American Parkinson Disease Association, June 26, 2018

In this 49-minute audio lecture with slides, neurologist, Dr. Jill Ostrem specifically addresses what is DBS, who is a candidate, what symptoms does DBS improve and not improve, current DBS systems and future uses of DBS. There is a good question and answer period at the end.

A Dancer’s Perspective on Movement & Parkinson’s

By Stanford University School of Medicine, Continuing Studies, July 15, 2010

This 2-hour lecture by Stanford movement disorder specialist, Helen Bronte-Stewart, MD, provides an overview of the neuro-motor functioning of the human body and how Parkinson’s disease develops. The speaker explains the evaluation for deep brain stimulation, the surgical process, expectations during post surgery/recovery, and device programming.

Deep Brain Stimulation

By TED Talks, January 2013

This TED Talk by neurosurgeon Andres Lozano is an entertaining summary of deep brain stimulation (DBS) and its potential uses for many disorders.  Dr. Lozano shares video of the effectiveness of DBS on a woman with Parkinson's tremor, and a child with dystonia.  He then shared evidence that DBS could be used to improve depressive symptoms and research into whether DBS can stimulate areas of the brain that are inactive due to Alzheimer's disease.

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS): What, When, Why & How?

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, April 18, 2019

This 1-hour webinar is for people with Parkinson’s and their care partners who want to learn how Deep Brain Stimulation works.  Kara Beasley, MD, explains the different types of DBS, what symptoms it does and doesn’t help, how to decide what DBS device to get, how the evaluation process works, he reality of DBS programming, myths and misunderstanding about DBS, and more.  [Registration is required, but is free.]

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease - Past, Present and Future

By the Stanford Hospital Health Library, March 10, 2016

In this 57-minute lecture, movement disorder specialists Melanie Lising, MD, and Laurice Yang, MD, discuss the development of deep brain stimulation surgery and the value of the surgery in improving many troubling symptoms of PD once Parkinson’s medications lose their effectiveness.

Latest Developments in DBS Surgery and Future Enhancements

By the Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach Program, September 17, 2020

In this one hour and twenty one minute webinar Stanford neurosurgeon Jaimie Henderson, MD, reviewed the steps a person with Parkinson's can expect before, during, and after DBS surgery.  He also outlined the differences between DBS systems as well as recent and anticipated advancements in DBS technology before taking questions from listeners.
Webinar Notes on the Stanford PD Community Blog

Deep Brain Stimulation: Is it Right for My or My Loved One?

By the Michael J. Fox Foundation, June 21, 2021

In this 1-hour webinar experts  discuss who should consider deep brain stimulation (DBS), a surgical procedure for Parkinson’s. We cover how the procedure works, what someone may expect after the surgery and the latest advancements in DBS research.

Overview of DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) and FUS (Focused Ultrasound) for Parkinson's Disease

By the Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach Program, January 12, 2023

In this one hour and twenty one minute webinar Stanford movement disorder specialist Margaret Ferris, MD, provides an overview of DBS (deep brain stimulation) and FUS (focused ultrasound) as treatments for Parkinson's. And she compared these two treatments.

Virtual DBS Panel

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, April 22, 2020

This webinar covers the what, when, why, how and more of DBS from movement disorder specialists who recommend it, surgeons who perform it, companies that make the devices, and someone who has been living with it for over 10 years. [Registration is required, but is free.]
Read our summary of the webinar for the Stanford PD Community Blog

Your Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Questions Answered

By the Davis Phinney Foundation, May 22, 2019

In this 1-hour webinar Dr. Helen Brontë-Stewart discusses the goal of DBS, what to expect and how to prepare for DBS surgery, dual therapy and how to blend DBS and medication, pros and cons of fixed vs. rechargeable batteries, symptom relief from DBS, unexpected and surprising symptoms DBS helps, programming, developments and innovation in DBS, and more.  [Registration is required, but is free.]

Expert-Level Resources

DBS A Patient Guide to Deep Brain Stimulation

By Monique Giroux and Sierra Farris.  Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, December 17, 2013. 

DBS experts distill a high tech brain surgery into understandable terms in just 132 pages. Packed with practical tips in a patient-centered approach, this book informs those considering DBS surgery by using case studies, personal stories and unique graphics. It walks the reader through the surgical procecure, expectations for improvement, evaluation process, programming principles and troubleshooting steps.

Predictive Factors for Long-term Outcome of Subthalamic Nucleus Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease

By C. Fukaya, et. al.  Published by Neurologia medico-chirurgica, January 2017. 

This study was to determine predictive factors for the long-term outcome of STN-DBS.  Results showed the PD onset age, age at surgery, preoperative high-level ADL (activities of daily living), cognitive function, and axial symptoms are important predictive factors for the long-term outcome of STN-DBS. Pre-registration required with PubMed to view full article.

Proceedings of the Third Annual Deep Brain Stimulation Think Tank: A Review of Emerging Issues and Technologies

By P. Justin Rossi, et. al.  Published by Frontiers in Neuroscience, April 6, 2016

These proceedings summarize the most contemporary clinical, electrophysiological, imaging, and computational work on DBS for the treatment of neurological and neuropsychiatric disease. Significant innovations of the past year are emphasized.

Last updated August 2020 by Stanford Parkinson's Community Outreach.