New device helps boost movement in Parkinson's patients

Denise Dador Image
Saturday, October 15, 2016
New device helps boost movement in Parkinson's patients
A new device offers improvements in a process that helps Parkinson's Disease patients called deep-brain stimulation.

WESTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Parkinson's disease can slowly rob a person of their ability to do even the most simple, every day tasks.

But a new type of technology, FDA-approved just days ago, may change the way people live with the disease.

A few minutes after turning on his new brain pacemaker, Stephen Manriquez's words rolled right off his tongue. He repeated a line from the doctor: "Today is a beautiful day."

A far cry from two months ago, when Stephen tried to speak at a party and only garbled words left his mouth. He said people with Parkinson's disease have good and bad days and that was not a good day.

The difference is that his doctors at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center implanted a new, FDA-approved deep brain stimulator called Infinity.

During his surgery, doctors woke up Stephen to test the location of the electric stimulators.

While deep brain stimulation has long been available as a treatment for Parkinson's, Infinity is the first device to use Apple and bluetooth technology. The Infinity system is said to provide greater control with fewer side effects and the ability to program the technology with a mobile device.

"It's that type of interface, I think it makes it easier for the patients to understand and easier for them to interact with their device and control their device," Dr. Nader Pouratian said.

Pouratian explained that brain pacemakers help provide a more normal electrical rhythm in people with Parkinson's.

Compared to older brain pacemakers, the leads on the Infinity allow patients to precisely stimulate exact areas of the brain without affecting others.

"And that allows us to steer the therapy or steer the stimulation in a more therapeutic direction," he said.

During his first programming session, a neurologist asked Stephen to tap his thumb and forefinger together.

Shortly after he's able to read "Invitation to dance," a poem he wrote to his wife Laura.

"As life's music plays a tune. And you dance, dance, dance."

The couple's love story began 43 years ago, when the poet and his muse married after a whirlwind romance.

"We're still very much in love and we always will be," said Laura Manriquez.

Ten years ago, Parkinson's Disease started chipping away at Stephen's ability to control his movement and speech.

"It's been hard to watch him get worse and worse," his wife said.

Now with this new device, the couple hopes to begin a new dance.

"We should take some lessons, honey! Ballroom dancing or something fun," she laughed.

And they hope to pick up life where they last left off.