Living with Parkinson's disease can be incredibly challenging even in its early stages.
The neurological disease affects your ability to move and worsens over time, but a North Texas woman has been able to regain control of her life with the use of deep brain stimulation.
For the first time in less than a year, 45-year-old Krista Ayers, of North Richland Hills, can use her right hand to write once again.
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Ayers was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease five years ago after experiencing tremors and rigidity in her right hand.
In the years that followed, the tremors and muscle stiffness worsened and she developed dyskinesia, the condition that causes involuntarily movement and is most associated with Parkinson's.
"I felt useless. I couldn't do anything. I wanted to get that back," said Ayers.
After learning about deep brain stimulation as a treatment during an educational seminar, she opted for the surgery, and went to Dr. Ab Siadati, at Medical City Fort Worth, the only neurosurgeon in Tarrant County who performs the surgery on adults.
During the surgery, electrodes are implanted into the brain and in a second procedure, another device, like a pacemaker, goes near the collarbone.
The patient uses a hand-held remote to activate the device to send impulses to block the abnormal nerve signals in the brain that cause tremors.
Deep brain stimulation as been approved for certain Parkinson's patients since 1997, but in 2016, the FDA approved it for patients in early stages, who aren't responding to medication and who've been diagnosed for more than four years.
Not all patients with tremors are appropriate candidates for DBS, so Dr. Siadati advises patients to talk with their neurologist about whether DBS could be an option.
"A lot of times, these patients are trapped in their bodies because they can't do things they want to do. This surgery allows them to go back to a more normal life," said Dr. Siadati.
Like any brain surgery, it comes with risks, like infection or stroke, but they were risks Ayers was willing to take.
She says the procedure has given her control over the disease that was controlling her body.
"I feel like I'm able to take care of myself. My husband still takes care of me, which I don't mind, but it feels really really good," said Ayers.
In observance of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Dr. Siadati and Ayers will both speak at an educational symposium on April 28 in Fort Worth, sponsored by the Parkinson’s Support Group of Tarrant County.
You can learn more here.