JUN 17, 2024 11:44 AM PDT

Robotic DBS Surgery Treats Paralyzed 8-Year Old Girl

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers performed the world’s first robotic Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) surgery on a pediatric patient with a rare genetic movement disorder. The patient’s motor function improved immediately following the procedure, which was performed at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital OU Health in collaboration with Bethany Children’s Health Center. 

DBS is a surgical technique that involves implanting electrodes into specific areas of the brain that are malfunctioning, and then sending a small electrical impulse to help the brain communicate with other parts of the body more efficiently. The treatment approach has been used to treat movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and dystonia- a neurological movement disorder that causes intermittent muscle contractions that may be painful and affect a person’s ability to complete daily tasks. Robotics enhance the surgical precision and safety of the procedure.

The current report marked the first time robotic DBS surgery was performed in a pediatric patient. The patient, an 8-year-old girl with rapid-onset primary dystonia, was initially paralyzed and could not eat, walk or sit up by herself. Her care team decided she was a good candidate for the new robotic DBS procedure as medications were of limited use in helping her recover, and as her condition became 'self-injurous' at times.

In a press release, the girl’s mother noted that her arms used to ‘lock up’ to the point they would put socks on her hands as she would scratch her neck. Activation of the neurostimulator enabled the girl to lower and relax her arms within minutes.

“There’s definitely been some improvements, even from the moment they turned it on. She is even using her voice a little bit more, and we can make out some of her words. I think she’s going to have a great future for sure,” she continued. 

"It’s exciting that we’re on the leading edge of what’s happening in the world of deep brain stimulation, as well as robotics," said Dr. Amber Stocco, M.D., pediatric neurologist and medical director of Child & Adolescent Neurology at Bethany Children’s Health Center, said in a press release.

“We are thrilled to have achieved this milestone. Our young patient is already showing promising results, and we hope this procedure will pave the way for more pediatric DBS cases worldwide," she added.


Sources: Neuroscience News, The Journal Record

About the Author
Bachelor's (BA/BS/Other)
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets.
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