In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

October 26, 2017

‘Miraculous’ Procedure Offers Relief From Parkinson’s Symptoms

By In the Loop

Deep brain stimulation

For close to two decades, Art Rowbotham had kept Parkinson's symptoms in check with medication. When that changed, his team at Mayo Clinic offered Art another option.

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.



Tags: deep brain stimulation, Dr. Robert Wharen Jr., Dr. Ryan Uitti, Mayo Clinic in Florida, Neurologic Surgery, Neurology, Parkinson's disease, Patient Stories

My husband had DBS 5 years ago – before the procedure, his tremors were uncontrollable with medication. He could not work, drive, operate a computer or a phone or feed himself. After DBS, his tremors were gone the same day and have not returned. While the disease continues to progress, his functionality is greatly improved in so many ways. We feel grateful every day to Mayo Clinic and Dr. Lee and his team for this miracle.


No wonder he is happy. Could be happy for some years now.

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