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"60 Minutes" Reports on Parkinson's

This coming Sunday, February 24, 2002, at 7 p.m. (EST) on CBS, ď60 MinutesĒ will present a special segment on Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). A copy of the press release follows. If you have any questions regarding DBS or Parkinsonís disease in general please feel free to call the Parkinsonís Disease Foundation, toll free, at 1-800-457-6676.

For Immediate Release:
Del Maxsonís life became almost unbearable when his medication began to cause side effects as bad as the Parkinsonís disease he took it for. Uncontrollable body movements made him housebound and, in his own words, stuck in ďa body that doesnít work.Ē But now Maxson plays pool, buttons his shirt Ė even shaves himself Ė thanks to a surgical treatment just approved by the Federal Drug Administration for advanced Parkinsonís sufferers. 60 MINUTES cameras follow Maxsonís journey from frustration to jubilation, including his brain surgery, in a Morley Safer report to be broadcast Sunday, Feb. 24 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Surgery to relieve the symptoms of Parkinsonís has been around for decades, mostly consisting of destroying tiny parts of the brain. The treatment given to Maxson and approximately 3,000 Americans like him consists of stimulating the brain with electricity. Electrodes are implanted into the suffererís brain, which can deliver varying amounts of electricity, making the treatment adjustable as symptoms worsen. Itís a distinct advantage over earlier surgical procedures, which were often one-shot propositions that were more dangerous to perform. The surgery is reserved, however, for patients with advanced Parkinsonís, those whose drug treatment is causing serious side effects.

The patient must remain awake during the six-hour operation so surgeons can be sure not to do any harm as they go deeper into the brain. Results are immediate. They are also lasting; the first patients to receive the treatment eight years ago are said to be still doing well. Maxson says the procedure gave him a new life. ďMy perspective before the operation was Parkinsonís was incurable and progressiveÖkind of a dark future that I had,Ē he tells Safer. ďNow Iíve got a future.Ē

Cleveland Clinic doctors on the team that operated on Maxson say the operation, called deep brain stimulation, doesnít always work as well for everyone. Some patients may not do as well as someone like Maxson. Some may even do better. Mark Sharp was also suffering from the debilitating effects of advanced Parkinsonís and, he too, received the operation at the Cleveland Clinic. Doctors there boast that Sharp was able to compete in a triathlon soon after the procedure.

Press Contact:
Kevin Tedesco
212 975-2329

Source Date: Feb 22 2002