What patients and families need to know
Deep Brain Stimulation Program
Deep brain stimulation is a treatment for uncontrolled, difficult, and sometimes painful movements associated with movement disorders, such as seizures.
We are one of only two children’s hospitals in the country with an in-house pediatric deep brain stimulation program. With one of the few dedicated pediatric deep brain stimulation experts in North America, we offer unparalleled expertise.
Deep Brain Stimulation for Movement Disorders
Deep brain stimulation uses an implantable device to send continuous, low-level electrical impulses to areas deep within the brain. The impulses prevent the brain from firing abnormal signals that are linked to movement disorders and seizures.
Highlights of our program include:
- Results. Led by Chima Oluigbo, M.D., one of the few pediatric deep brain stimulation experts in North America cross-trained in pediatric and functional neurosurgery, our program has superior expertise in treating patients with all types of movement disorders.
- Multi-specialty approach. From neuropsychology to rehabilitation medicine, our entire multidisciplinary team works together to ensure the success of your child’s treatment.
- Seamless care. With all of our movement disorder specialists under one roof, your child’s care is seamless. After the device implant procedure, your child receives ongoing care from pediatric neurology experts who specialize in his or her particular condition.
- Research. Our internationally renowned experts lead ongoing studies toward expanding the use and effectiveness of deep brain stimulation. Many of our current efforts focus on helping cerebral palsy patients.
Conditions We Treat Using Deep Brain Stimulation
Deep brain stimulation brings lasting relief from abnormal movements that can be painful and disruptive to your child’s everyday life. Abnormal movements can be caused by many conditions, including:
- Cerebral palsy: a lifelong condition that affects the communication between the brain and muscles, causing a permanent state of uncoordinated movement and posturing
- Epilepsy: when there are recurring interruptions in the normal connections between nerve cells in the brain. These interruptions cause temporary episodes of symptoms and abnormal movements known as seizures
- Movement disorders: recurring abnormal movements that affect the speed, quality, and control of your child’s body
Deep Brain Stimulation: What to Expect
When other treatments for movement disorders or seizures are not successful, deep brain stimulation may be an option for your child. Deep brain stimulation can bring lasting relief but does not cure underlying causes. If deep brain stimulation is right for your child, here’s what you can expect:
- Imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps us pinpoint the area of brain tissue responsible for movement disorders. We use this information to best plan your child’s treatment.
- Neurotransmitter implant procedure. Using minimally invasive neurosurgery techniques, we access the brain through a tiny incision in your child’s skull. We implant thin, insulated wires (leads) in the area of brain tissue responsible for the condition.
- Pulse generator implant procedure. The pulse generator (neurostimulator) is a battery-operated device that sends low-level electrical impulses to the leads. During a separate procedure, we implant the pulse generator near your child’s collarbone. We also thread the leads under your child’s skin to connect with the pulse generator.
- Stimulation treatments. Once the leads and pulse generator are connected, your child receives a continuous stream of electrical impulses. Impulses are generated by the neurostimulator, travel through the leads, and end up in the deep tissue of the brain. Here, they block abnormal signals that are linked to your child’s movement disorder.
- Follow-up care. Your child will likely need deep brain stimulation throughout his or her lifetime. Our neurologists provide regular follow-up care to make sure the device is working correctly. We also may adjust the neurotransmitter settings to meet his or her changing needs.
For more information or to speak with an expert, call us at 202-476-3020.
Deep Brain Stimulation Program Team