Woman left a virtual recluse by Tourette”s syndrome “cured” by electrodes implanted in brain
A woman with Tourette”s syndrome who suffered such terrible spasms she became a virtual recluse, has been given her life back following pioneering surgery.
Jayne Bargent, 55, said she has been effectively cured of the uncontrollable and violent tics that left her unable to read, cook or walk in a straight line.
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Recovery: Jayne (right) no longer suffers the violent spasms that afflicted her before the operation (left)
She had suffered from Tourette”s syndrome since childhood but over the past few years medication taken to treat the condition had started to make it worse.
Doctors at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Bloomsbury implanted two tiny electrodes into her brain which were then connected up to a pacemaker battery in her chest.
The battery delivers mild electrical pulses via the electrodes to parts of the brain which control movement. The procedure, known as deep brain stimulation, or DBS, has already proved effective for other movement disorders including Parkinson”s.
It is not known exactly how the stimulation works but it is thought to harmonise the electrical circuitry in the brain.
Within an hour of the electrodes being switched on this week, Ms Bargent, from Hampshire, was showing dramatic improvement. Doctors said she would continue to get better over the coming weeks.
Positive: Jayne and her partner Mark said they were both astounded by how rapid Jayne”s recovery has been
Electrodes were placed carefully in areas known to be involved in producing controlled movement
She said: “It”s amazing – I just don”t feel like the same person. This is going to give me my life back. I”ve had three years of getting gradually worse and they press a few little buttons and everything improves dramatically.
“We had stopped socialising. I wouldn”t eat in front of anyone because the food would fall out of my mouth. I couldn”t even lie on the bed to relax if I was having a bad day because I would still be twitching and have pain in my neck. I couldn”t imagine living the rest of my life that way.
“But now I”ll be able to phone people, go for walks and start riding again. It”s going to totally change my life.”
Her partner Mark Trick said: “I”m astounded by the difference in Jayne. I cannot thank the hospital enough.”
The hospital and the UCL Institute of Neurology are carrying out the UK”s first trial to evaluate the impact of DBS on Tourette”s, which occurs mainly in childhood. Only a small percentage of sufferers shout inappropriate comments. Most, like Ms Bargent, suffer from involuntary movements.
The trial is taking place at the Unit of Functional Neurosurgery which is backed by the Parkinson”s Appeal, the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation and the Monument Trust.
Consultant neurologist Tom Foltynie said: “We have a few patients like Jayne where we have seen encouraging results using DBS.”