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Brain Surgery Providing Hope For Patients With Parkinson's Disease

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A new brain surgery is creating a lot of excitement and hope for patients with Parkinson's disease.

Margaret Adylette wanted to write her family history, but the tremors and muscle stiffness caused by Parkinson's disease would not let her. Then she heard about a new treatment called deep brain stimulation.

Neurosurgeons place electrodes in the area of the brain that controls movement. They connect the electrodes to a stimulator located under the collarbone, essentially making it a pacemaker for the brain, which blocks the signals that cause movement problems.

Since the brain cannot feel pain, patients are awake during the procedure, but are given medications to help with discomfort. The patient plays an important role during surgery.

"It's often watching to see if their tremor is gone. Just moving their arm testing their rigidity," said neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Tatter.

Once the device is in, surgeons test patients to see if it is working.

"Asking them questions, to do things for us, so we can check their own ability to initiate movement and the speed of that movement," Tatter said.

The world's first live

Internet broadcast

of a deep brain stimulator implantation for Parkinson's disease took place Wednesday at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

It was the state's first live webcast of a surgical procedure of any kind.