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Procedure helps patients with Parkinson’s Disease, essential tremors

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There is help available for people suffering from Parkinson’s Disease or essential tremors.

It’s called deep brain stimulation.

The procedure isn’t new, but it’s evolved to make patients more comfortable.

A neurosurgeon at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital is the first in the state to perform the surgery on patients while they’re asleep.

“I feel great, it’s wonderful, I have my life back,” said Rhonda Walls, who had the surgery five months ago after having tremors for 25 years. “I don’t even remember my life without the tremor.

After taking medication and other therapies, she went to see her neurologist after she could no longer write.

“I went to my doctor and said, ‘I can’t live with this anymore, what am I going to do?” said Walls.

“Seeing the results of deep brain stimulation is the most immediate gratification we get in neurology,” said Walls’ doctor, Dr. Michael Sermersheim, of Josephson Wallack & Munshower at St. Vincent’s Indianapolis.

Even the basic functions of drinking, brushing her teeth and eating were tedious for Walls.

The surgery isn’t new, but unlike many of those before her, she’s asleep during surgery.

“Asleep, deep brain stimulation is a recent refinement in the technique, not a complete overhaul,” said Dr. Albert Lee, of Goodman Campbell Brain and Spine at St. Vincent Indianapolis

Dr. Lee performed Walls’ surgery. He’s one of the 1 percent of neurosurgeons in the country performing this surgery and the only one in Indiana.

Walls was implanted with a pacemaker-like device that she’s able to control.

“(My) quality of life is back, its great,” said Walls.