The POST, a monthly magazine by Univeristy of Florida Health, published the story of 14-year-old Felipe Hanel and the deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery to treat his dystonia. Felipe received the 1000th DBS lead implanted by the UF Health Center for Movement Disorders & Neurorestoration team.
“I know the place I ultimately want to stimulate in order to help someone with dystonia,” Foote says. “With the patient awake, Mike can map it for me and then we can test out a lead and, for example, be sure we don’t tickle the optic track and make them see spots.”
The doctors also can tell whether the stimulation is causing a patient’s face to pull, triggering strange prickling sensations, or causing slurred speech.
The article goes into detail on the process that Dr. Foote, Dr. Okun, and the team use to perform the DBS operation, from performing the surgery virtually on UF-developed computer software to listening to the brain to finalize the lead placement.
“When you know you’re getting close to the target, you move slowly, one brain cell at a time,” Okun said. “If you’re not hearing something, there’s a lot of reasons that might be, and that may tell you that you are entering silent structures of the brain. In this game hearing nothing is something. Conversely, if there are changes in the ambient background — just like in a sporting event when the crowd begins to crescendo — you use these changes to define where you think structures are in the brain.”