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Margaret and Martin Tuchman

Margaret and Martin Tuchman.

Margaret, a bilateral-STN patient, was diagnosed with Parkinson's over thirty years ago. In addition to being the Founder of DBS4PD.org, she is the President of The Parkinson Alliance.

As the Quality of Life issue becomes the predominant focus, individuals with PD reach out to sources available to help them make a choice about their next step: more pills, different combinations of pills, time interval changes, less protein, more rest, ad nauseam. Or, they consider the next big step: surgery.

But, which surgery? Initially, the breakthrough surgical techniques designed to help individuals with PD involved ablative surgical procedures (pallidotomy and thalamotomy) that therapeutically destroyed brain tissue to reduce undesirable motor symptoms. Although this surgery may be used for select (very few) patients at this time, over the past few decades, evolution in surgical intervention for individuals with PD introduced Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy, currently a widely used intervention for individuals with PD.  DBS is indicated for adjunctive therapy in reducing some of the symptoms of advanced, levodopa-responsive PD that are not adequately controlled with medication. DBS is a reversible procedure (unlike pallidotomy, thalamotomy, and subthalamotomy that use ablative surgical techniques) and uses a surgically implanted medical device, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, to deliver carefully controlled electrical stimulation to precisely targeted areas in the brain. The device electrically stimulates specific structures that control unwanted symptoms. Moreover, research has identified that stimulating specific brain structures will assist in optimizing therapy for individuals with PD; those structures are the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and globus pallidus interna (GPi). Although research continues to identify other possible brain targets, the STN and the GPi are the two targets most commonly used for DBS therapy for individuals with PD.

DBS has the capability to improve the motor symptoms of PD, such as tremor, rigidity, slowness of movement, and dyskinesia. Dyskinesias improve with DBS because the patient may be able to reduce parkinsonian medications.

Many individuals with PD have found, as Margaret did in the year 2000, that there was no collective repository of information about the types of surgery, the selection criteria of the patients, a description of the patients' condition before, during and after surgery, and the protocol each surgical team uses. There was no cumulative, organized statistical data, since each facility maintains their own records and decides whether or not to publish their own stats.

In December of 2000, Margaret had very successful bi-lateral DBS-STN surgery at NYU School of Medicine, The Center for the Study and Treatment of Movement Disorders. As a result of her surgery, she was feeling better than she had felt for the previous 10 years, and she decided to “give back” to the PD DBS community.

She developed a list of questions, putting them into survey format. These questions were designed to give voice to and record the patients' point of view of the entire DBS experience. She created a DBS specific Patient Survey in 2001 to record the reactions and feelings of the patients’ to their experiences pre-, during, and post surgery. The NYU surgical team served as an advisor in formulating the survey questions and gave her access to their patients, who were the first group to complete the survey. Margaret is sharing these experiences with peers and providing this information to the DBS community.

New Vistas to Explore

We have expanded our research endeavors to 1. obtain a better understanding about the experience and well-being of individuals with PD who have received DBS, and 2. compare individuals with and without DBS in the context of both motor and non-motor symptoms related to PD. We use a combination of standardized scales, patient-centric questions generated by The Parkinson Alliance, and intricate statistical methods to obtain sound results. Including the Core Survey, we have conducted 17 surveys to date, investigating the experience of people with PD (PWP) as it relates to such topics as quality of life, coping with PD, resilience, balance, speech, pain, depression and anxiety, sleep, fatigue and apathy, and the broad scope of other non-motor symptoms.

The results of that survey are available here.
Thanks to the commitment to many PWPs and care partners, the number of participants in our surveys continues to grow with every research topic, and we have many repeat participants who have taken part in several surveys. 

One of the important goals that we set for ourselves is to provide a tool to find a common language among the physicians, care partners and PWPs. Our surveys help define meaning, adding language to the feelings and perceptions of the patients thereby helping to facilitate understanding between the patient and doctor, patient and carer and carer and doctor.

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson Disease: An Expert Consensus and Review of Key Issues

One of many facets of Margaret’s vision when she created The Parkinson Alliance and DBS4PD.org was to bridge the voice of the patient’s experience to the treatment providers in order to enhance the treatment effects for PD, as to improve quality of life for the individuals with PD.  Through bringing together some of the world’s leaders in DBS therapy, she took a landmark step toward her vision. On April 1st-3rd, 2009 The Parkinson Alliance (with shared sponsorship provided by the Davis Phinney Foundation, the LSVT Foundation, and the National Parkinson Foundation) convened a panel of the world’s experts on DBS for PD.  The task assigned to these experts was not to craft a typical consensus statement for themselves, but to come up with a document aimed squarely at their true customers—the patients.

These world leaders discussed the current matters related to DBS therapy and where we need to go with this intervention. The ultimate focus was on improving the effectiveness of the intervention and the quality of life of those individuals who have undergone or those who will choose to undergo DBS. 

The topics of the Consensus Meeting were many and included patient selection, gait and speech DBS outcomes, non-motor DBS outcomes (mood and cognition) and long-term DBS outcomes, to name a few.

The final report, entitled “Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson disease: an expert consensus and review of key issues” has been published and can be accessed on our website. 

Also, at the conclusion of the Consensus Meeting, a group of PD patients with and without DBS was invited to an open forum where several clinicians shared their experiences and answered the participants’ questions.  A copy of the summary describing the important dialogue between patients and clinicians about many of the commonly asked questions that exist in the PD community can also be found on our website.

View a written report of the Patient Forum that occurred at the Consensus Meeting.

From The Parkinson Alliance to the DBS Community

Since the fall of 1995, Margaret found her life becoming more deeply involved with and learning about the People With Parkinson’s (PWP) community and their struggle to claim victory over the disease that has halted their lives. She and her husband, Martin, along with a group of activists, dedicated four years of concentration to have Congress pass a bill to guarantee the annual expenditure of 100 million dollars for Parkinson's disease research. The Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Research and Education Act was signed into law in the fall of 1997 by President Clinton. To qualify for Parkinson's research grant money from The National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the Udall Act, researchers must submit their scientific data with grant applications. The procedure is very costly, and often researchers do not have the funds required to compile the necessary data. This is when the seeds for a unique partnership were planted and The Tuchman Foundation and The Parkinson Alliance, both non-profit corporations based in Princeton, New Jersey, were planted.

The Tuchman Foundation was formed to foster philanthropic activities and chartable support from corporations, associations, and individuals throughout the country. The Parkinson Alliance’s mission is to raise funds for the most promising Parkinson's disease research programs.

With The Parkinson Alliance in the capable hands of its Chief Executive Officer, Carol Walton, Margaret is devoting herself to helping improve the quality of life in the DBS community.

More information about The Parkinson Alliance


General Information

Clinics, Universities, and Foundations

Discussion Groups

  • Ask the Surgeon — The National Parkinson Foundation's special service to DBS patients with questions answered by a neuro-surgeon