Art Rowbotham is used to making things happen. The 69-year-old is president of Hall Communications and oversees the company's 25 radio stations in Florida, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont. But recently there was something he couldn't make happen, no matter how hard he tried.
Art, who has Parkinson's disease, tells The Ledger, a newspaper in Lakeland, Florida, that there were times he "just couldn't stop shaking." His wife, Bonnie, tells the paper that Art "would flap like a flounder. His hands would go back and forth very dramatically, and as the day wore on he would get worse." After nearly 20 years of managing his Parkinson's symptoms with medications, Art found the medications were losing their effectiveness. "It would just be uncomfortable," he says of the symptoms, which the Ledger reports made it "difficult for him to type and do other aspects of his job."
But that was then. Today, thanks to a procedure called deep brain stimulation, Art is once again "able to do things [he] couldn't do as easily before," he tells the Ledger. "It's miraculous."
That miracle came courtesy of Art's physicians at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. As the Ledger reports, neurologist Ryan Uitti, M.D., first mentioned deep brain stimulation to Art a few years ago. But Art was nervous about the operation, which involves implanting electrodes within the brain and implanting a pacemaker-like device in the chest to control the electrodes.
Last year, however, "the disease was interfering so much with his life that he overcame his trepidation" and decided to have the operation. Neurosurgeon Robert Wharen Jr., M.D., performed the procedure. Art was sedated but awake so Dr. Wharen could make sure the correct areas of Art's brain were being stimulated.
The day after the surgery, there was no question it had been a success. "When he got up the next day, he outwalked all of us when we were walking back to see the doctors," Bonnie tells the Ledger. "Our older son turned to me and he said, 'Wow.' We were all walking as fast as we could to keep up with him." The surgery, Bonnie says, "is nothing short of amazing" and has "made a huge difference" in her husband's life.
Art agrees, telling the Ledger that the procedure "has transformed his life." He's been able to cut back on his medication, has begun walking and taking the stairs at work, and has "no plans to retire." And while there's no cure for Parkinson's, Art is grateful, he tells the Ledger, for the procedure that "buys you time to have a much more productive lifestyle."
You can learn more about deep brain stimulation in this video, which features a professional musician who played the violin during surgery to help his team determine the correct placement for the electrodes that would stop his tremor. Then leave a stimulating comment below before using the social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.