Life-changing treatment making a difference for Parkinson's patients
BATON ROUGE - Parkinson's can take over a person's life and there is no cure. Thousands of people are diagnosed with the disease everyday. There is breakthrough technology available in Baton Rouge to reverse the effects of Parkinson's.
Ed Richardson never thought he'd be able to be sit nearly motionless again when he was diagnosed with Parkinson's a year ago.
"I was taking 12 pills a day and now I'm taking nothing, and I haven't even taken anything since they turned it on, he told News 2's Natalia Verdina.
The treatment Richardson is talking about is deep brain stimulation.
"If you get a good response with the medication, you're highly likely to get a good response with the stimulator," neurosurgeon Paul Waguespack, M.D. explains. Dr. Waguespack practices at The NeuroMedical Center in Baton Rouge.
Doctors use the device to reach cells affected by Parkinson's. Once the electrode reaches its destination, it starts to send out low-voltage electronic frequencies.
The patient remains awake throughout the entire surgery, waiting for tiny device to reveal its powerful results.
"A lot of time the patient gets so overwhelmed, they actually breakdown in the operating room," Waguespack says. "A lot of people in the operating room start breaking down, too when that happens."
It only takes a few seconds for the effects to kick in.
"It's like flipping a switch," neurologist Gerald Calegan, M.D. "We don't get to do that very often: flip a switch and make people instantly better."
After the two-hour procedure, a small plastic cover is attached to the head, holding the electrode in place. A battery back attached to the person's chest keeps electric frequencies funneling through.
Richardson had the device inserted just over a year ago. He was brave enough to show us what it's like when the device is turned off. He almost instantly relives those uncontrollable shakes. When the doctor turns the device back on, Richardson's moments wind down. In about 8 seconds, he's back to where he was before with his hands resting calmly on his lap.
"I was just amazed by it, but the good Lord gave them the talent to do it and gave me the best in receiving that talent," he says.
The procedure is pricey. It costs about $100,000, but it is covered by most insurance companies.