Researchers from the Neurological Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC) have found that Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) helps patients with Tourette Syndrome (TS) – the neurobehavioral disorder characterized by sudden, repetitive muscle movements and vocalizations. DBS involves the surgical implantation of electrodes in the brain and pulse generators in the upper chest. The implanted pulse generator is programmed to deliver a high-frequency electrical stimulation to the targeted area of the brain.

In this study the electrodes were placed in the thalamus (a portion of the brain involved with controlling movement) of five adults with TS. The neurologic team at UHCMC mapped out regions of the patients' brains using MRI scans and 3-D computer images to find the best route to the thalamus. Following surgery, the researchers conducted double-blind video-based rating assessments of tic frequency and severity. Three of five patients had a reduction in their motor and vocal tics and all but one patient had a significant improvement in quality of life.

The UHCMC team's study marks the first and only scientific surgical trial for Tourette Syndrome. TS often begins in childhood, and in some adults the motor and vocal tics become more disabling even with medical therapy. The DBS surgery was proven to be significantly beneficial for medically refractory Tourette Syndrome.

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