New device planted in the brain can help patients with Parkinson's

WSFA/NBC - It's like a pacemaker for the brain, created to help people with Parkinson's.

"It's a huge deal. You can turn the clock back in these patients," said Dr. Jerry Vitek of the University of Minnesota.

The device, by Boston Scientific, called "The Vercise," is a new kind of deep-brain stimulation system, implanted in the chest, with a wire on the side. A tiny, 1.27-millimeter lead that Dr. Michael Park says is surgically inserted into the head.

"We do the surgery while the patient is awake, so when we turn it on we can actually see the tremors go away," said Park.

Deep brain stimulation itself has been getting positive results for years but, last month, Vitek and Park both oversaw the very first patient receive treatment from the new FDA-approved "Vercise."

Park said, "I would compare it to something like how our cell phones and smartphones have evolved. It just has more features that means you can do more things with it."

Essentially, it's more personalized. It has an independent contact control, which controls the amount of current and where it goes into the patient's brain, hitting the right spots and avoiding negative side effects.

Vitek said, "My personal belief is the vast majority of patients would do well with this."

Copyright 2017 WSFA 12 News/NBC. All rights reserved.