Deep brain stimulation controls Parkinson’s symptoms

David Halvorson’s job as an engineer at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids means he spends lots of time at the computer. So when his right hand movement became slow and a bit of clumsiness set in about eight years ago, carpal tunnel was suspected. Ergonomic adjustments to his office furniture made no difference. This eventually led to medical testing and a shocking diagnosis: Parkinson’s disease.

“It wasn’t a total surprise,” says Halvorson, a 57-year-old grandfather. “My father had Parkinson’s disease and had died the previous year. Still, it was a shock to find out I had it too.”

Eventually, Halvorson sought care at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he received care over a period of years from neurologist Ergun Y. Uc, MD. Drug therapy helped initially but because of marked fluctuations in his response and involuntary movements (dyskinesia) for several years, Uc eventually offered Halvorson a surgical option called deep brain stimulation (DBS). Halvorson agonized over what to do but finally decided to undergo the procedure. During DBS, UI neurosurgeon Jeremy Greenlee, MD, implanted electrical stimulators in Halvorson’s brain to better control his tremors and dyskinesia.

After the surgery, Uc resumed his role in Halvorson’s care by programming his DBS and by adjusting his medications. Uc says, “Mr. Halvorson had great outcome with minimal or no fluctuations and decrease in his oral medications. He feels like he can function as in the first year of his disease.” Halvorson praises both Uc and Greenlee, along with other members of the UI Parkinson’s care team. “It’s all made a big difference. The disease isn’t cured, and future adjustments will be needed, but it improved my life. I’m glad I went to the University where I had all the best treatment options and a great care team. I’m very pleased!”

For more information: Call University of Iowa Neurology Scheduling at 319-356-2571 or e-mail

About Parkinson’s:

  • Brain disorder with loss of dopamine
  • Most often develops after age 50; affects men and women
  • Leads to tremors, difficult with walking and movement
  • Medications help, but their effectiveness decreases after several years
  • DBS is a good option for some patients

–Fall 2011