Vancouver – Beginning April 1, people with Parkinson’s disease whose symptoms can no longer be controlled with medication will have improved access to deep brain stimulation (DBS).
“We are taking action to expand access to deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s patients through a five-point plan that the ministry has developed with Vancouver Coastal Health to address wait times now and going forward,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.
The number of primary insertion DBS surgeries will increase from a planning baseline of 36 in 2016-17 to 72 for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
DBS uses electrical impulses to stimulate a target area in the brain. The stimulation affects movement by altering the activity in that area of the brain. The procedure does not destroy any brain tissue and stimulation can be changed or stopped at any time. Surgery is required to implant the equipment that produces the electrical stimulation.
The formal establishment and expansion of the provincial DBS program is in addition to the government’s surgical strategy to increase surgical volumes through targeted investment, and maximizing best practices and efficiencies. The surgical strategy is supported with ongoing targeted funding of $75 million starting in 2018-19, increasing to $100 million in 2019-20. Approximately 9,400 more publicly funded surgeries will be completed by the end of March 2019.
The strategy will improve timely access to surgery through a more efficient surgical system and help the Province catch up to and keep up with demand. It will also improve patient experience by focusing on improving surgical pathways, co-ordination of care and information provided to patients.
- Parkinson’s is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Symptoms may include tremors, stiff muscles, slow movement and/or problems with balance or walking.
- As of January 2019, approximately 70 patients were waiting for primary DBS insertions.
- Patients are typically eligible when medications to control motor function are ineffective. Benefits of DBS can include fewer tremors, improved facial expression and reductions in medication.