Parkinson’s Disease

A strong neuroscience program is about to get stronger—meet leaders and researchers at the forefront

Today, neuroscience at OHSU is poised for dramatic growth, driven by emerging areas of research strength in the fields of neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration and a planned investment of at least $100 million. Led by long-time campus leaders and new luminaries, the university is doubling down on its quest: contribute in a major way to understanding the mystery between our ears and, above all, improve brain health. Leadership On the faculty since 1982, Dennis Bourdette, M.D., F.A.A.N., chairs neurology in the … Read More

Parkinson’s patient worried about DBS surgery — but not about the team at OHSU

Marilee Thompson worried about having surgery to treat her Parkinson’s disease. She knew the risks of deep brain stimulation surgery were low, she said, but “somebody makes up the statistics” on the few who have complications. What she didn’t worry about was the surgical team at OHSU. Thompson knew that Dr. Kim Burchiel, an OHSU neurosurgeon, had been doing deep brain stimulation for a long time. He was the first doctor in the U.S. to … Read More

Deep brain stimulation surgery: Eugene patient shares his story

Parkinson’s disease nearly overwhelmed Colin Halstead’s life. He needed two canes to walk. He took 27 pills a day. His voice was hard to understand, and his ability to make facial expressions had all but slipped away. His employer thought he needed to go on disability. Then he faced needing his parents to move from Sutherlin to Eugene to take care of him. At 48, he felt like a child again. “Just thinking about being sick for … Read More

Considering deep brain stimulation? OHSU maps treatment step by step

Many people with Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor reach a day when medication just doesn’t cut it anymore. Sometimes the medication doesn’t provide the relief it once did. Or patients have to take such high doses that side effects spiral beyond what they can tolerate. That’s when some turn to deep brain stimulation surgery, or DBS. At OHSU, patients who have Parkinson’s or essential tremor and are considering DBS receive a step-by-step treatment plan. The … Read More

7 facts about deep brain stimulation ─ and why it might not be as scary as you think

There’s no getting around it. Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, requires brain surgery. And that ─ understandably ─ makes people nervous. But DBS might not be as invasive or scary as you think. DBS can be a powerful treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor. Tiny electrodes, or leads, are placed in the brain and connected to a pacemaker-like device. The device sends low-voltage electrical pulses to help control movement. Many patients enjoy … Read More

FAQs on deep brain stimulation: What is it? What does OHSU offer?

If you or a loved one has Parkinson’s disease or essential tremor, you may have heard of deep brain stimulation. But what is it? How does it help? And how is it done here at OHSU? Here are 10 of the most frequently asked questions that can help you learn more. We’ve also recently launched a new deep brain stimulation website with details on the procedure and which patients make good candidates. 1. What is deep brain stimulation? Deep … Read More

Is there a connection between stress and Parkinson’s disease?

Most neurology text books will state that stress seems to exacerbate Parkinson’s disease symptoms and persons with Parkinson’s disease often describe the worsening of their tremor when having to speak publicly or the worsening of dyskinesias while watching a suspenseful movie scene. In spite of this observation there has not been a lot of research really examining the interplay of stress and the development or exacerbation of Parkinson’s. We know that stress can have effects … Read More

Bionic handball: A daughter’s take on deep brain stimulation

In 2013, Dennis and his family traveled from Missoula to Portland so he could undergo Deep Brain Stimulation surgery for his Parkinson’s disease. We’ve shared Dennis’ Parkinson’s story and the perspective from his wife Mary Ellen, as the primary caregiver. Now, their daughter Daphne gives us a peek at what it was like for their family the night before surgery. Tuesday, August 6, 2013 Bionic Handball When you or a loved one is suffering from a disease, every … Read More

Living with a husband who has Parkinson’s disease

Dennis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 15 years ago and underwent Deep Brain Stimulation at OHSU in 2013. Last week, we heard his story, from the patient perspective. Here, his wife Mary Ellen provides a look into the caregiver’s frame of mind. Originally published on Summit For Parkinson’s, a group of Montanans giving back to the Parkinson’s community. The caregiver’s perspective “How’s Dennis?” That is the typical question of friends and acquaintances wanting to show they care about the health … Read More

Meet Dennis: Husband, educator, Parkinson’s patient

In 2013, Dennis and his family traveled from Missoula to Portland so he could undergo Deep Brain Stimulation surgery for his Parkinson’s disease. In honor of Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Dennis has agreed to share his Parkinson’s story. Originally published on Summit For Parkinson’s, a group of Montanans giving back to the Parkinson’s community. My intimate experience with Parkinson’s disease began 20 years ago when my father, at age 74, was diagnosed and began his journey dealing with the … Read More