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Garry Toop is a Kelowna resident and family man who was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2005 at the age of 55. He is also one of several British Columbians who have had Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery. 

Deep Brain Stimulation is a surgical procedure where a doctor implants electrodes in specific areas of a patient's brain. These electrodes regulate abnormal impulses or affect cells and chemicals in the brain. The amount of sitmulation is controlled by a device - similar to a pacemaker - that is placed under the skin into a person's upper chest. A wire travels under the skin to the electrodes in the brain. DBS can treat conditions such as epilepsy, essential tremor and Parkinson's disease (Mayo Clinic, 2015). 

Although this treatment is not a cure, and is not suitable for all those diagnosed with Parkinson's, it may be an option if a patient is experiencing more advanced symptoms of the disease. While the surgery has enabled people to cut down on medications and continue to live independently, patients in BC can wait as long as four years for access to the procedure. The province is currently examining the costs of DBS compared to pharmaceutical options, and individuals like Garry are hoping that sharing their stories will influence change. 

Although Garry underwent the procedure twice to gain the desired results, he confidently states that as a result of DBS he has been able to reduce his prescribed medications to 40% of what he had been taking previously. "It's like a new lease on life," Garry explains. "I can climb the steep trails of Knox Mountain, including running every stair on the steepest route with no drugs in my system. My finger response has improved so I am able to play music again. I can also hit a golf ball over 140 yards and straight down the line at practice with a 7 iron. My symptoms improve daily. Now, I'm in charge of my day."

Parkinson Society British Columbia (PSBC) is working alongside advocates like Garry to express the need for expansion of the Deep Brain Stimulation program in BC. If you are interested in joining our provincial advocacy networks, please contact Jean Blake, Chief Executive Officer, at jblake@parkinson.bc.ca or 1-800-668-3330. 

Source: Mayo Clinic Staff. (2015, November 11). Deep Brain Simultation. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/deep-brain-stimulation/home/ovc-20156088)