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Friday, February 24, 2023

A Trip of a Lifetime – With Parkinson’s Disease Under Control

Posted By: Advancing Care

Photo courtesy of Wendy McCarthy

Wendy McCarthy recently enjoyed the vacation of a lifetime to Greece, a trip the Millbrook resident may not have been able to enjoy — or even take — if not for her treatment by neuroscience specialists at WMCHealth’s MidHudson Regional Hospital.  

Seven years ago, McCarthy, 67, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological condition that causes tremors, stiffness, mobility issues and other symptoms. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, McCarthy’s symptoms had long been controlled with medication.  

Unfortunately, her disease progressed, and higher doses of medication were necessary to keep her symptoms under control. While the higher doses were effective in symptom control, McCarthy began to experience involuntary movements, an unfortunate side effect some patients have when taking higher doses of some medications.  

The involuntary movements made daily tasks difficult for McCarthy and a new treatment regimen was needed to restore her quality of life. Led by Fabio Danisi, MD, the Associate Director of Neurology at MidHudson Regional Hospital, McCarthy’s WMCHealth care team huddled to discuss care options, and they all came to the same conclusion. 

“We agreed Wendy would be a good candidate for deep brain stimulation,” said Dr. Danisi.

In deep brain stimulation therapy, a surgeon implants electrodes into regions of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease. A battery and pacemaker-like device are also placed under the skin below the patient’s collarbone to power continuous electric brain stimulation to help mitigate symptoms. The stimulation is delivered in two separate procedures, one for each side of the brain. 

Vishad Sukul, MD, Section Chief for Functional and Epilepsy Surgery, performed the first procedure at WMCHealth’s Westchester Medical Center. According to Dr. Sukul, brain stimulation therapy tamps down aspects of the brain network responsible for abnormal movements and is used as therapy for conditions such as essential tremor and dystonia, as well as Parkinson’s disease. 

“I noticed a difference immediately,” said McCarthy, who could not be happier with the therapy’s results. With her Parkinson’s disease symptoms under control, McCarthy planned – and enjoyed - her trip to Greece. 

The best part of McCarthy’s trip? “The time with my daughter, who lives there,” McCarthy recalled. “She spoiled me terribly!”  

McCarthy has high praise for her care at MidHudson Regional Hospital and Westchester Medical Center and will soon undergo the second deep brain stimulation procedure for added relief from Parkinson’s disease symptoms.  

“It’s wonderful that I was able to get treatment so close to home,” she says. “I felt in competent hands. I even wrote a letter to the Hospital; they were just so nice. We are so lucky we have this facility so close.” 

At WMCHealth, our multidisciplinary team treats movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia. To learn if you or a loved one are candidate for deep brain stimulation or other therapies, we encourage you to visit our website or call 914.493.2363 for more information and to schedule a consultation.