Steady As She Goes: Parkinson’s Patient Finds Relief After Local, Groundbreaking Procedure

“The tremors and fatigue got so bad. My arm would seize up, and ultimately, I had to quit my job.” That was the low point for Parkinson’s patient Suzanne Wyper, a massage therapist here in Austin.

For several years, Suzanne struggled with the effects of Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative condition of the central nervous system that causes tremors, loss of mobility and speech, and in some cases dementia and death. Suzanne’s frustration grew after several neurologists provided no relief. But that would change.

“I heard about deep brain stimulation as a way to relieve my symptoms.” It was a good choice for Suzanne, whose story recently aired on KXAN-TV.

With deep brain stimulation, a device called a neurostimulator is implanted to deliver electrical stimulation to targeted areas in the brain that control movement. This blocks the abnormal nerve signals that cause tremors and other symptoms.

In December, Dr. Robert Buchanan, a top neurosurgeon with the Seton Brain & Spine Institute performed Suzanne’s deep brain stimulation at University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Suzanne’s procedure was the first in the world to use a new 3-D CT scanner, the MedTronic O Arm 2, that helps surgeons better visualize the patient’s brain, so that placement of the electrodes in the targeted areas is more precise.

“The brain moves,” explains Dr. Buchanan. “Close is good. You know it sounds ridiculous, like playing horseshoes, right? Close is pretty good. But we would like to be perfect because perfect is better.”

Immediately, Suzanne found relief. “It’s been remarkable. I’m not having the balance issues and my tremors are much better. It’s phenomenal.”

Suzanne’s walk is steady again. She no longer needs her dog Buddy to help her up after she falls. And she would love to return to work as a massage therapist.

Deep brain stimulation offers people with Parkinson’s much hope. Dr. Buchanan adds, “At some point in the progression of their disease, all Parkinson’s patients should really think about getting deep brain stimulation.”


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