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DBS Surgery Turns Back the Clock for Father of Three

Rob Reeser was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was only 30 years old. He’d been married for 10 years and had three children. He was shocked by the diagnosis and disheartened by the likely course of the disease. Last year, he had deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and says he feels like the clock has been turned back 12 years.

“I feel like I did pre-Parkinson’s,” says Reeser, now 42. “I have my life back, and my kids have their dad back.”

Reeser, who lives in Circleville, Ohio, coaches his 12-year-old daughter’s basketball team and golfs with his son, 16. He plays baseball and basketball, and exercises on a treadmill.

Before DBS surgery, Reeser had severe tremors in his arms and legs, and rigidity (dyskenesis). The symptoms, which began as a severe tremor in his thumb, progressed over a decade.

“I was a municipal clerk. When I could no longer write, I had to quit work,” he says. “Eventually, I was unable to do activities with my kids. My life changed. I couldn’t do normal things people my age could do. My wife, Deanna, said I acted like I was 60. I tried every medication possible, and they caused the dyskenesia. DBS was my only hope.”

During DBS surgery Reeser could tell the procedure was a success. “Dr. Rezai had me hold a glass of water up to my mouth to see if I could drink. Before, I could only drink through a straw because of my tremors. I easily took a drink from the glass. It felt awesome. I was so excited.”

Dr. Rezai implanted tiny electrodes in Reeser’s brain. Thin wires connect the electrodes to a small pacemaker-like device in his chest wall. The electrodes deliver electrical stimulation to block abnormal signals from the brain that cause the disabling symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

“If DBS surgery hadn’t been available, my life would revolve around medications,” says Reeser. “People who have Parkinson’s should know things aren’t hopeless. This surgery is the hope.”

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