A technology-based approach

At UW Health, we offer the most advanced treatments for conditions such as epilepsy and movement disorders. One of these is deep brain stimulation (DBS).

DBS isn’t right for everyone, but for many people, the treatment helps them function better and leads to a better quality of life.

About the treatment

What is deep brain stimulation?

DBS uses electrical impulses to change or block the brain’s electrical signals that are causing your symptoms. These impulses are delivered by electrodes surgically implanted in specific areas of your brain.

We thread a wire under your skin that runs from the electrodes to a device we place in your chest. The device is like a pacemaker. We program and adjust it with a special type of remote control. 

DBS doesn’t work for everyone. It won’t cure your condition or keep it from progressing. However, in some cases, it can reduce symptoms of movement disorders by as much as 70 percent. Many people are also able to reduce the amount of medication they must take.

Who is DBS for? 

DBS may be considered for epilepsy or movement disorders if other treatments haven’t provided relief. Movement disorders we treat include: 

  • Dystonia 

  • Essential tremor 

  • Hyperkinetic disorders 

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Spasmodic torticollis 

  • Torticollis 

  • Tourette’s syndrome 

In general, you must meet the following criteria to be considered for treatment: 

  • You’ve tried other treatments 

  • Your condition causes substantial disability 

  • You’re in reasonably good health 

  • You’re able to attend clinic visits and provide feedback during programming sessions for your device

  • You have a good support network

Treatment process

Placing and programming your device

Our team will first do some tests to determine if DBS is likely to be safe and helpful. They’ll talk about the potential risks and benefits and answer any questions you might have. If you decide to proceed, they’ll do more tests to determine the area of your brain to target.

What to expect before, during and after your DBS surgery.
Learn how we program your DBS device and to learn more about living with the device. You’ll also find answers to questions patients commonly ask.

Meet our team

Experience, skill and compassion

Our providers

Patient support and services

Information and resources

The following resources provide more information about DBS and answers to common questions:


Advanced care, close to home

Related services

Find out more