About DBS Treatment
How Can Childhood Dystonia Be Treated?
Initial treatments for dystonia often include medication alongside occupational therapy. In cases where these approaches are not successful, Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS, may be considered.
DBS is a neurosurgical procedure that can be used to treat dystonia in children between 7-17 years of age. DBS may be recommended by a clinician only after patients with treatment-resistant dystonia have exhausted other available treatment options.
DBS involves surgery to implant electrodes in specific regions of the brain. Wires under the skin connect these electrodes to a battery that’s surgically implanted in the chest or abdomen. The electrodes deliver electrical stimulation to specific regions of the brain to reduce symptoms.
Setting Expectations: What Can DBS Do?
It's important to understand what DBS can and cannot do, and what to expect before, during and after DBS surgery.
Deep Brain Stimulation does not cure dystonia. It also does not instantly alleviate symptoms. Instead, DBS has the potential to improve a child’s quality of life and aid in managing the symptoms of childhood dystonia.
The benefits of DBS depend on the type of dystonia being treated. While DBS is not a cure, patients may expect to experience some improvements in symptoms. This may allow a child to become more independent, feed themselves, and experience less pain. They may also be less dependent on multiple medications to manage their symptoms.
Clearing Up Misconceptions About DBS
When other medications and therapies don't help, it can be tempting to overestimate the potential benefits of DBS treatment. Families and caregivers may think DBS will “fix” or “cure” their child’s dystonia, which can lead to disappointment.
Because it can be challenging to project outcomes of DBS, there are important realities families should recognize in advance of treatment.
While DBS is not a cure for dystonia, it's also important to consider the potential benefits for your child. Talk about your options with your family and your medical team. This website can help you with those conversations, and provide the facts you need to make an informed decision.