Robotics could help people with tremors, Parkinson's

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A breakthrough in technology could help people living with tremors or Parkinson's disease and it's on the First Coast.

It's called bilateral deep brain stimulation. Some surgeons at Baptist Hospital said a little device, about half the size of a deck of cards, can help some people living with Parkinson's disease or tremors get their lives back.

People like Jerry Bliffen, 76, of Orange Park. He lives with an essential tremor. He said it has gotten to the point where he couldn't eat small vegetables.

"If I was going to eat with small vegetables," Bliffen explained, "I'd eat with mashed potatoes or something like that."

So, his wife found neurosurgeon Dr. Bradley Wallace to do something about it. Dr. Wallace used the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System to implant electrodes into both sides of Bliffen's brain to help reduce tremors.

Officials with Baptist Health said the medical center in Jacksonville is the the first in the world to perform bilateral deep brain stimulation using the Mazor Robotics Renaissance Guidance System. What that means is the procedure treats both sides of the brain in one surgical procedure.

"Using deep brain stimulation, particularly for Parkinson's disease has been proven to be better than best management with medicines alone," Dr. Wallace said.

Guy Leblanc had the procedure done. He is able to draw pretty well now, but as his stimulation was turned down, his neat spiral drawings turned into squiggly lines ad he tried to complete his drawing.

Leblanc lost control of his fine motor skills and his arm shook uncontrollably.

"It saved my life," Leblanc said of the procedure.

To see if you are a candidate for the surgery, consult your doctor.

The cost of the procedure might be covered by your insurance.

Click here to learn more about deep brain stimulation.


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