Medical breakthrough is changing lives of those with Parkinson's

A medical breakthrough is changing the lives of people right here in the Phoenix area.We sat down with Bill Ba...

Posted: May 1, 2018 2:38 PM
Updated: May 1, 2018 2:38 PM

A medical breakthrough is changing the lives of people right here in the Phoenix area.

We sat down with Bill Barta, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease several years ago.

Eventually, he lost the use of his right arm.

He thought his life was virtually over until a neurologist at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix suggested a therapy called deep brain stimulation.

Essentially, the device is a lot like a pacemaker for your heart but instead, it's for your brain.

The device helps control tremors.

Mere days after the device was installed, Barta got movement back in his right arm.

He was able to do little things that all of us take for granted, like using a screwdriver and picking things up.

Barta says he feels like he's gotten his life back.

"It's absolutely amazing, its hard for me really to put into words, how life changing it's been," Barta says. "Its not a cure but its a treatment for the disease that's life-changing. Essentially, it looks like a pacemaker, the only difference is the electrodes, Instead of being in my heart, it's stuck in the middle of my brain."

Barta's biggest fear is that he wouldn't be able to walk his teenage daughter down the aisle one day when she gets married.

Now that fear is no longer a concern.

"Bill is a great example of someone who is still in his prime and is looking at this like, 'This isn't going to keep me from doing what I want to do,' and now having this new lease in being able to continue what he wants to do longer than he might have otherwise," said Dr. Francisco Ponce, Barta's neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute.

Ponce says, according to the FDA, in the past, you had to have advanced Parkinson's to be considered a candidate for this surgery.

Now, the FDA says if you've had this disease for 4 years and have chased symptoms for at least four months, you're a candidate.

Chased symptoms mean that you've used medications that haven't proven to be successful in the treatment of the disease.

Dr. Ponce expects this surgery and implant will be available for those who suffer from epilepsy and in the future, Alzheimer's.

He says clinical trials are being put together now.

People interested in the procedure can contact Barrow Neurological Institute.

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