Brain stimulation gives Parkinson’s patient new lease on life

Posted on: Friday, June 23rd, 2023

Electrodes and wires placed in the brain of Carl McLain as part of a deep brain stimulation surgery.

At 77 years old, Carl McLain appears to be the picture of health. His half smile and twinkling eyes hint at a mischievous sense of humor.

But eight years ago, he was far from feeling healthy. Mysterious symptoms such as pain in his legs, depression, anxiety and trouble sleeping led him to see one specialist after another in New Mexico, where he was living at the time. The diagnosis was mixed.

“I thought the pain in my legs was because of exercise, so I exercised harder,” he said.

He moved to San Antonio at the invitation of his daughter, Dina McLain Tom, MD, an associate professor of inpatient pediatrics at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Within a week, he met with a neurologist, was tested and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

“Looking back now, all the classic Parkinson’s symptoms I read on the internet were a description of what I had,” he said.

For seven years, he managed his symptoms with medication. However, the medication prescribed caused other symptoms, such as dyskinesias, involuntary movement in the arms, legs, face and trunk.

When the medication began to diminish before the next dosage and his symptoms worsened, McLain was given a surgical option to alleviate some of his symptoms — deep brain stimulation. Initially, he was reluctant until his neurologist, Sarah Horn, MD, at UT Health San Antonio, explained the window of time he had to decide.

To read the full story, visit the UT Heath San Antonio Newsroom.

Article Categories: Diagnosis and Treatment