Alex meets with neurosurgeon Dr. Emad Eskandar to find out more about deep-brain stimulation as a treatment option for dystonia.
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Deep-Brain Stimulation for Dystonia Travis Stork: Alex did have the opportunity to meet with neurosurgeon, Dr. Emad Eskandar to find out more about DBS or Deep Brain Stimulation. Take a look at their visit. Emad Eskandar: Fortunately, there is actually a pretty good treatment for dystonia and that treatment is called deep brain stimulation. The surgery is actually done with you awake and that is where we put the electrodes in. That is fine. Alex: But it doesn’t hurt? Emad Eskandar: No, we make two dime-sized openings in the skull and it would go in about like that. And then we put in this device called the pulse generator and that sits right underneath the clavicle in the chest wall. So it sits like about here and this will be invisible. Male: And then what this is doing is sending out peroneal pulses, peroneal electrical pulses into your brain that is countering the pulses of the brain. Emad Eskandar: In the abnormal ones. The vast majority of people the change is so profound. Some of these are kids and they are like in wheelchairs and then they can walk. Male: So doc, you got to have to review some more of the information about it before we make a decision as to whether or not she is a candidate. Emad Eskandar: This is a genetic testing, we will do something called neuropsych testing and then we will make like a combined decision. That way, we are sure we make the right decision. Alex: This operation, I could go back to dancing. Emad Eskandar: I cannot guarantee it but I think it is possible. Male: What you're seeing right here is really just the idea that part of her dream might come back. Part of her dream could come back and Alex, before we left, the doctors had to do some other testing to find out whether or not Alex was really a candidate for DBS and guess what? You are. Alex: Shut the front door. Travis Stork: In fact we have Dr. Emad Eskandar on the phone right now to talk about this. Explain both to Alex and all of us what can one expect from deep brain stimulation. Emad Eskandar: Well, in her case, it is a process. It is not an immediate thing. So, it is a two stage surgery. In one case, we put in the deep brain stimulator, that part is done with her awake. It's just so we can test her and make sure that we are in the right place and then a smaller surgery later to put the pulse generator in. Then we turn it on and in dystonia, unlike the other things like Parkinson disease, it takes time for it to take effect. We expect gradual improvement over a period of like three to six months. The idea would be that, once it is all in and turned on and adjusted and so on, that a casual observer or someone just walking down the street looking at her would have no idea that there was anything wrong with her, you know. That would be our goal. Travis Stork: This is the Medtronic DBS device. This is what would be in your chest, both sides and it would lead up to your brain and the idea is that there will be major improvements. I want everyone to look at Alex dancing before. Male: Because you know what? If this goes in, one day you may get to do that again. Travis Stork: You will get to that again. Male: She will get to do it again. And we will be there watching, alright? Alex: Thank you. Male: and it is a very possible procedure. We are working with the Doctors Phil Foundation to help you with the cost. Everyone watching that wants to make a donation to Alex’s fund go to ThDoctorsTV.com and click on Dr. Phil Foundation, 3:36 Alex’s story to donate.