DBS-1-imageWhen William, Ian, Joan, Bonnie, Renee and Thomas decided to undergo Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) they were pinning their hopes on a little known surgery that involved implanting electrodes in their brain. But for them, ending the contorting, twisting postures caused by Dystonia or the involuntary shaking of Essential Tremor and Parkinson's disease, compounded with the side effects of medication, was well worth the initial uncertainty. A little over a decade ago, doctors at TWH embarked on this new frontier of medicine. While not a cure, DBS virtually eliminates the symptoms associated with movement disorders.

On September 10th the Movement Disorders Clinic held a celebration to recognize some their first DBS patients, all of whom have helped advance the treatment and enabled doctors, scientists and surgeons at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre to become world leaders for DBS.

"Before the surgery, I felt like a prisoner in my own home—but now I have my independence back and the best part was being able to return to the hockey rink to see my son play," said DBS patient Ian Pearson.

Patients of the Movement Disorders Clinic and their families gathered to listen to the emotional and inspiring stories of some of UHN's DBS patients.
 
Among the guest speakers was Dr. Ronald Tasker, a UHN surgeon who helped pioneer the treatment. Dr. Tasker reflected on the history of DBS and how it was originally used to treat pain. The electrical stimulation is like a pacemaker for the brain that "pinpoints the areas of the brain that are malfunctioning and stops their abnormal behaviour," said Krembil neurosurgeon Dr. Andres Lozano, who was the first surgeon in North America to perform DBS.

To date, over 500 patients have been treated with DBS surgery at UHN. Recognized as one of the best centres
in the world to treat movement disorders, the team treats patients from around the world.

"We wanted to thank and honour our patients, who put their trust in our hands to help them improve their quality of life," said event organizer and neurologist Dr. Elena Moro. "For us, this is like a family reunion and together we can share our experiences, lend support and give each other hope."

DBS-2-_imageWilliam Orlowski, a professional tap dancer shared his experience of being diagnosed with Dystonia in 1999 and his journey through DBS surgery. "I had always lived my life as a dancer and then Dystonia became my new dancing partner," said Mr. Orlowski. "The only problem was, she wanted to lead."
 
For years, William tried to disguise the symptoms of his Dystonia in order to keep dancing on stage. But eventually he could not hide the pain associated with the disease. When William learned about DBS he opted for the surgery in 2005. He credited the team in the Movement Disorders Clinic for helping him regain his life and finding new meaning in his work.

"I have learned to incorporate what has happened to me into my art," said Mr. Orlowski. "I teach dancing to autistic children and now I look at it as a gift."​​​

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