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 Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) Program

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is part of a broad category of neurosurgical treatments known as neuromodulation. Ohio State is among the most experienced centers in the country performing neuromodulation procedures, such as DBS.

What Is DBS?


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DBS is a leading-edge surgical procedure that can improve the quality of life and decrease physical disability for persons suffering from symptoms due to specific neurological and psychiatric disorders. DBS involves surgically implanting tiny electrodes into the brain and connecting them to a small pacemaker-like device (programmable battery) that has been implanted into the chest wall. The electrodes deliver tiny electrical signals that calm abnormal brain signals. The goal of these electrical signals is to alleviate disabling symptoms, such as tremors, and restore function to the patient.

Our Patients

Essential tremor – DBS is considered when patients with persistent and severe tremor are not receiving significant benefits from medications or the side effects are too severe.

Parkinson's disease– DBS is considered when a patient has idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, and one of the following issues:

  • Debilitating hand and/or leg tremor that fails to respond to medications
  • Idiopathic Parkinson's disease with continued good benefit from treatment with medications, but with frequent return of disabling rigidity, slowness of movements, and tremor due to "on-off" fluctuations, or with excessive uncontrollable movements called “dyskinesia”
  • Idiopathic Parkinson’s disease but failure to tolerate all parkinsonian medications due to severe side effects

Dystonia – DBS is considered when a patient has significant debilitating symptoms of primary dystonia and has failed to respond to oral medication, botulinum toxin therapy, and other treatment modalities.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – DBS is considered when a patient has severe symptoms that have lasted for more than five years and have failed to respond to medication and cognitive therapies.

How We Determine If DBS Is the Right Treatment

Each patient who is referred to Ohio State’s Center for Neuromodulation for a DBS consultation will be scheduled for a comprehensive screening and evaluation by our multidisciplinary team to determine the likelihood of a successful response. Below are the steps involved in determining if you are a candidate for DBS:

  • You contact your healthcare provider for an initial evaluation and referral to the Center for Neuromodulation at The Ohio State University Medical Center.
  • Your healthcare provider completes referral form and submits it to Ohio State’s Center for Neuromodulation.
  • You are scheduled to receive a comprehensive screening and evaluation by our multidisciplinary team. This screening includes assessments by neurologists, neurosurgeons, neurophychologists as well as brain imaging.
  • You and family meet with Ohio State physicians to discuss results of screening as well as surgical information.
  • Your case is reviewed by Ohio State’s Neuromodulation team at a patient management conference. The team makes a recommendation about your care.
  • You are contacted by Ohio State’s Center for Neuromodulation about the recommendations for care. This may include scheduling surgery and therapy if deemed appropriate by the Center’s team.

Our team-oriented approach applies to all aspects of your care through the initial evaluation, surgery, postoperative care and rehabilitation. Our goal is to work closely with you, family members, caregivers and your referring physicians to develop a comprehensive and holistic care plan

Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?

There are many reasons to choose our DBS programs and services:

  • Ohio State is ranked among America's Best Hospitals by U.S.News & World Report for neurology and neurosurgery.
  • Our successful DBS program is due, in part, to the strong multidisciplinary teamwork and collaboration among our neurosurgeons, movement disorder neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, as well as our nurses, physician assistants and patient coordinators. This teamwork and our comprehensive evaluations ensure optimal selection of surgical candidates and enable us to make the best choices for patient outcomes.
  • Ali Rezai, MD, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and neuromodulation specialist, is the director of the Center for Neuromodulation. Dr. Rezai is an internationally recognized DBS surgeon who has performed more than 1,600 DBS surgeries and thousands more neuromodulation procedures. Dr. Rezai and his work have been highlighted on the popular CBS news program "60 Minutes" and the PBS series "Wired Science."
  • Ohio State is leading DBS research to further improve movement disorders treatment. For example, Ohio State was one of seven national sites to complete the first gene therapy trial that showed positive potential to improve treatment and symptoms in Parkinson’s disease.
  • Ohio State's Center for Neuromodulation is exploring how DBS could treat other chronic disabilities such as epilepsy, stroke, headache and pain. Our long-term goals are to explore how DBS could be used for the treatment of traumatic brain injury, addiction, eating disorders, Alzheimer's disease, autism and many other conditions. 

Contact Us

Your physician and other care providers may be able to help determine if you would benefit from a referral to our Center for Neuromodulation. Please contact your current healthcare provider for an initial evaluation.

If you need further assistance or would like to learn more about deep brain stimulation, please contact the Center for Neuromodulation patient coordinator at 855-255-0550. ​

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