India’s, and Asia’s, first Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) implant using medical robot technology was conducted at the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, allowing a young patient of Parkinson’s to lead a near-normal life.
The surgery was conducted by the hospital free of charge, considering the financial situation of the patient.
A 45-year-old patient of Parkinson’s disease, the only earning member of his family, got a new lease of life after undergoing Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) implantation at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences (Amrita Hospital). This is the first time in Asia that DBS implantation has been done using medical robot called ROSA. This technology enables minimally invasive surgery of the central nervous system with a level of precision not possible by human hand.
It was difficult for Zubair, a 45-year-old auto-rickshaw driver from Kerala’s Guruvayoor district suffering from Parkinson’s, to complete a single trip, as he would start shaking uncontrollably midway, terrifying his passengers. Often, he had to request them to disembark and take another auto for their safety. Zubair would then take his medications on the roadside, wait for the effects to kick in, and make another trip to earn a living and support his wife and two children.
After the trail-blazing surgery conducted by Dr. Ashok Pillai, Dept. of Neurosurgery, at Amrita Hospital, Zubair’s symptoms of Parkinson’s disease have disappeared and he is now able to lead his life as any other healthy adult. Considering the financial situation of the patient, the hospital conducted the surgery free of cost.
DBS is a neurosurgical procedure that was first introduced in the US in 1987. It involves the implantation of a neuro-stimulator ('brain pacemaker’) in the patient’s body which, through wires connected to the head, sends electrical impulses to specific areas in the brain.
Said Dr. Ashok Pillai: “DBS has provided therapeutic benefits for treatment-resistant disorders like Parkinson's, epilepsy, movement disorders, chronic pain, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Functional neurosurgery is an important branch of neurosurgery that helps correct treatment-resistant neurological disorders. The ROSA robotic technology, often called the GPS system for the skull, ensures high precision during the implantation of the neuro-stimulator. This was used for the first time in Asia in the case of Zubair.”
Zubair was just 35 years old when the symptoms of Parkinson’s first came to light. He thought his condition would improve with medicines but they only provided temporary relief. As the years progressed, his fits became more violent. Any high-pitch sound would throw him into a fit of rage. Life as he and his family knew it had turned upside down, plagued with debt and depression.
Running from pillar to post to find a solution to her husband’s medical condition, Zubair’s wife reached the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences where she was directed to its Movement Disorder Clinic. Just when Zubair had lost all hope of leading a normal life, doctors suggested a new course of treatment, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) using a medical robot for high precision surgery. Zubair agreed. This procedure remains the first-ever robotic-assisted DBS implantation performed in India, and whole of Asia, for Parkinson's disease.
After the successfully surgery, Zubair is extremely happy about his new-found freedom. The symptoms of Parkinson’s have disappeared. He says, “After so many years, I can watch a movie with my family without any disturbance. Earlier, I couldn’t go out to a social gathering or even attend family functions because everyone would stare at my tremors.” Now he is back on the road with a permanent smile on his face as he effortlessly ferries passengers in his auto-rickshaw, all thanks to the electrodes embedded in his brain.